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NAACP urges Ga. to follow Virginia’s lead, apologize for slavery

    ATLANTA — Black legislative leaders said Thursday they will introduce proposals asking Georgia to follow Virginia’s lead and apologize for the state’s role in slavery and segregation-era laws.
    ‘‘It is time for Georgia, as one of the major stake-holders in slavery, as one of the major players in lynchings, to say it’s sorry,’’ said state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta. ‘‘Sorry for the fact that it was involved in slave trade, sorry for the fact that it was involved in Jim Crow laws.’’
    The measure comes on the heels of a Virginia resolution that passed unanimously in February expressing ‘‘profound regret’’ over slavery. Lawmakers in Missouri are now considering a similar proposal, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen introduced a resolution in Congress asking the federal government to apologize for slavery and Jim Crow-era discrimination.
    ‘‘If the capital of the Confederate states can lead the way in issuing an apology, then surely all of the other states that maintained slavery can consider doing the same,’’ said Brooks, who is president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.
    The proposal, which is expected to be unveiled in the next few days, could also go a step beyond an expression of regret, said Edward DuBose, president of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP.
    ‘‘By asking Georgia to apologize for its role, we’re asking it to assume responsibility,’’ he said.
    The measure is unlikely to find a warm reception in Georgia’s Republican-controlled Legislature.
    Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office said it had no comment on the proposal, but House Speaker Glenn Richardson said Thursday it would be ‘‘impossible for legislation offering an apology for slavery to move this session’’ because it’s too late in the 40-day session. He also questioned the need for any type of official apology.
    ‘‘I’m not sure what we ought to be apologizing for,’’ said the Republican from Hiram. ‘‘Nobody here was in office.’’
    Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams had a similar reaction.
    ‘‘People shouldn’t be held responsible for the sins of their fathers,’’ said Williams, R-Lyons. ‘‘I personally believe apologies need to come from feelings that I’ve done wrong. I just don’t feel like I did something wrong.’’
    The NAACP said it is unfazed by the criticism.
    ‘‘I didn’t expect real cooperation from many of the white Republicans,’’ said DuBose. ‘‘Not all of them feel that way. But certainly people who benefit from slavery, especially in the state of Georgia, you wouldn’t expect cooperation from.’’
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