What States Have Apologized for Slavery

states apologize for slavery

ADOS stands for the American Descendants of Slavery, and its attempt to seek redress for the injustices visited upon black people who can trace their ancestry back to slaves on American soil. Part of the ADOS movement is to seek an apology from the United States for its role in legitimizing the slave trade. We spoke about how we can close the racial wealth gap.

Six states have apologized for their historical roles in supporting slavery. The following states have made formal apologies for slavery:

  • Alabama – 4-25-07
  • Florida – 3-27-08
  • Maryland – 3-27-07
  • North Carolina – 4-05-07
  • New Jersey – 1-08-08
  • Virginia – 2-26-07

Florida

The Florida Legislature formally apologized  for the state’s “shameful” history of slavery. The state issued a two-page resolution passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and then the House, bringing at least one lawmaker to tears. Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, called it a “significant step” toward reconciliation.

“All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing,” Mr. Crist said in an interview, reciting an adage. “I think we are reminded of that today because it takes courage to do the right thing, and it’s not always easy.”

Alabama

The State House and Senate approved resolutions apologizing for slavery. The House passed its resolution on an unrecorded voice vote, and the Senate vote was 22 to 7. The House earlier voted 46 to 41 to table an amendment that sought to change the apology to an expression of regret. Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, signed one of the resolutions.

Maryland

The vote in the House of Delegates made the apology official, because a resolution doesn’t require the governor’s signature. The state Senate already approved it. The resolution noted that slavery “fostered a climate of oppression not only for slaves and their descendants but also for people of color who moved to Maryland subsequent to slavery’s abolition.”

North Carolina

The Senate unanimously backed a resolution acknowledging its “profound contrition for the official acts that sanctioned and perpetuated the denial of basic human rights and dignity to fellow humans.”

“This is a way to reflect upon this and express our understanding and our regret for official actions of our state,” said Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, a Democrat and the bill’s primary sponsor.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Legislature passed a resolution to issue an official apology for the state’s role in slavery. New Jersey is the fifth state to apologize for slavery, but the first northern state to do so. New Jersey had about 12,000 slaves in the 1800s, one of the largest slave populations in the North. It was also the last northern state to abolish slavery in 1846.

The resolution apologizes to the slaves and their descendants. The resolution further acknowledges the difficulties that African Americans have had in gaining civil rights, and calls for citizens to learn about the history of slavery in order to gain understanding and ensure that the struggles of the slaves are never forgotten.

Virginia

Virginia lawmakers voted unanimously on Saturday to issue an apology for the State’s role in slavery, which all began in Jamestown over 400 years ago. And surprisingly, Virginia is the first State to ever issue an official apology for its role in the slave trade.

A. Donald McEachin, a Democrat delegate who sponsored the Resolution, was quoted as saying, “This session of the House will be remembered by the fact that we came together and passed this Resolution.”

The “slavery apology” Resolution passed the House 96-0 and cleared the 40-member Senate on a unanimous voice vote.  Virginia governor Tim Kaine was not required to sign it.

Virginia was the first to enact a resolution, in February 2007. It was also the state with the largest slave population in the country in 1860.

Even Though Some States Apologize for Slavery. Others Remain Silent.

Although all six state resolutions passed with almost unanimous approval, there was debate over whether these apologies might lead to calls for reparations payments to the descendants of American slaves. Congress of the United States has not yet passed any kind of apology to the descendants of American slavery.