Our Opinion: Apology not needed - but it helps

Published 4:08 pm Monday, April 30, 2007

By Staff
Why should the Alabama Legislature seek an apology for the state's role in perhaps the ugliest chapter in American history, slavery?
Why not?
An Alabama apology isn't quite what opponents think it is - but it isn't quite what proponents hope it is, either.
An apology is symbolic - maybe it's not necessary, but it certainly doesn't hurt our image. But it's also a gesture that needs to be backed every day by actions that will help stem the tide of racism and inequality in our state.
An apology doesn't say that you or your great-great-great-grandfather had anything to do with slavery; it expresses regret that our state had a role in turning human beings into chattel.
Can't we apologize for something even if we had no culpability in it? Can't we all agree that slavery was vile and inhumane? Can't we all as human beings be sorry for that, no matter who our ancestors were?
Gov. Bob Riley has said he will sign whatever bill comes before him, and both houses, which have passed different bills, now need to come together and negotiate a wording that they can agree upon.
Riley is smart to sign the bill with no protest.
Alabama is competing on a global stage for industry and jobs and investments. We don't need to look like we can't move on from a past that virtually everyone agrees was filled with despicable events.
The gesture is simply symbolic. We have moved light years beyond the days of slavery and even beyond the days of segregation, but our state still has far to go.
An apology for slavery won't halt racism. But it shouldn't hurt our efforts as we continue to move beyond our state's darkest days.