Doug Gross, AP, March 15, 2007
A panel of Georgia lawmakers signed off Thursday on a plan to create a Confederate heritage month, even as legislative leaders reacted coolly to a push to apologize for the state’s role in slavery.
The unanimous vote by the Senate Rules committee—which sent the plan on to the full Senate for consideration—comes days after black lawmakers announced plans to ask the state to officially apologize for its role in slavery and segregation-era laws.
Virginia’s legislature last month passed a resolution expressing “profound regret” for the state’s role in slavery, and lawmakers in Missouri and Congress have proposed similar measures.
Democratic Rep. Tyrone Brooks, chairman of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, said it’s discouraging to see the Confederate month proposal moving ahead after leaders of the Republican-controlled House and Senate said they’re not in favor of apologizing for slavery.
“Georgia needs to recognize and apologize and atone for its part in the slave trade, as Virginia has done,” Brooks said. “Until we do, I think there will continue to be resistance from African-Americans and others who are serving in the General Assembly” to efforts like Confederate month.
Mullis has supported efforts to create a Civil Rights History Month in Georgia but opposes a slavery apology. “If I had done something personally, yes, I would apologize,” he said.
The state’s branch of the NAACP called the push for a Confederate month hypocritical.
“Although the supporters of the Confederate history bill feel responsible to honor the past deeds of their ancestors through official governmental action, they resist all notions that they have any responsibility to apologize to their ancestors’ victims through official governmental action,” said Edward Dubose, president of the group’s Georgia chapter. “That reeks of hypocrisy.”