In the last several years, the legislatures of eight states have officially expressed regret for their involvement in slavery: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia. Similar measures are pending or proposed in other states, including Georgia, Missouri, New York, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Texas, and there is a movement in Rhode Island for a legislative apology for that leading slave-trading state, as well.

In the U.S. Congress, a similar apology resolution passed in the House of Representatives in 2008, introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and co-sponsored by 120 representatives. In 2009, the U.S. Senate voted to pass an apology resolution sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

A bill to form a commission to study the history and legacy of slavery and its aftermath, and possible reparations or other remedies, has been introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) into the House in each Congress since 1989. This bill, known as H.R. 40 (for the promised “forty acres and a mule”), was the subject of a hearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee in December 2007.

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