Apology for state role in slavery introduced

February 10, 2007|By Jennifer Skalka

A state Senate resolution introduced this week would require Maryland to apologize for "the role the state played in maintaining the institution of slavery and its attendant evils."

"I don't think anyone from the state has ever apologized for this atrocity that was perpetrated on our people," said Sen. Nathaniel Exum, a Prince George's County Democrat and the proposal's lead sponsor.

The Senate passed a similar measure last year, but it failed in the House of Delegates. Exum said Deputy Majority Whip Michael L. Vaughn, also a Prince George's County Democrat, will lead the push for the resolution in the Senate.

The Senate resolution notes that slavery was permitted in Maryland until 1864. It requires the state to express "profound regret" for its role in promoting the slave trade, but it does not call for reparations.

Sen. Verna L. Jones, a co-sponsor of the measure who is also chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said the caucus is considering whether to back the proposal.

A similar measure recently caused a stir in Virginia when a white lawmaker said of slavery that blacks should "get over it," according to news reports. But the Virginia House of Delegates subsequently voted unanimously to approve a measure expressing "profound regret" for the Commonwealth's slave trading history.

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