Category: Repair and reparations Tags: Apologies, Georgia, Legislation, Mississippi, Racial discrimination, slavery
This is the season for state legislatures to consider whether to finally offer an apology for their role in slavery and racial discrimination, as eight states in the North and South have seen fit to do in recent years.
On Friday, we reported on the apology bill which has been filed in the new session of Georgia’s House of Representatives. That resolution would express the Georgia General Assembly’s “profound regret” for the state’s historic role in slavery.
This morning, we have word that an apology resolution has been filed in the Mississippi State Legislature by Rep. Willie Perkins (D-Greenwood).
House Concurrent Resolution 2 would have the state legislature formally express its “profound regret” for Mississippi’s role in slavery and “apologize” for slavery in the United States. The resolution also acknowledges in some detail the history of slavery and the slave trade, and the subsequent century of Jim Crow, and the harms which this history has caused.
Of note, this resolution goes a bit further than most in using the word “apologize” explicitly. Most such resolutions limit themselves to expressing “profound regret,” or other words to that effect.
The resolution, which is modeled on similar resolutions which have been considered or adopted by other states, also includes a common disclaimer: that the resolution may not be used in lawsuits of any kind—meaning, of course, lawsuits seeking reparations for slavery.
Here is how Rep. Perkins explains the need for a state apology for slavery:
There was wrong done and Mississippi pretty much led the nation, as far as I’m concerned, with racism and slavery.
It’s a healing process. One aspect of this resolution involves the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. How do you have a Civil Rights Museum and not have in it some statement or declaration that the state of Mississippi now apologizes for the system of slavery?
Perkins goes on to note that Mississippi, like many states, has been reluctant to come to terms with its past role in slavery, even in modern times:
It was only 1995 when Mississippi decided to accept the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery, so we have a long way to go.
We should note that this proposed apology is not new: Rep. Perkins has filed similar apology bills in the past, but they have not been approved by the legislature.