I just got this email from my friend Baruti
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FYI - A sixth state - Florida - apologizes for slavery in America.
"Principal" Baruti Kafele
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Florida Legislature Apologizes for State’s History of Slavery
By DAMIEN CAVE and CHRISTINE JORDAN SEXTON
Published: March 27, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Legislature formally apologized Wednesday for the state’s “shameful” history of slavery, joining five other states that have expressed public regret for what Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, recently called America’s “original sin.”
The 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, quoting the philosopher Edmund Burke. “I think we are reminded of that today because it takes courage to do the right thing, and it’s not always easy.”
Several black lawmakers, especially Senator Anthony C. Hill Sr., Democrat of Jacksonville, have been pushing for a public apology since last year. What eventually passed on Wednesday resembled statements issued by North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey, the last state to apologize for slavery with a resolution in January.
The Florida resolution expressed “profound regret” for the state’s role “in sanctioning and perpetuating involuntary servitude upon generations of African slaves.” It did not use the word apology, but Mr. Hill said the statement’s intent was clear.
“At the end of the day we said three words: ‘I am sorry,’ ” he said. “I think now we can begin the healing process of reconciliation.”
Florida’s history with slavery is unusual. Its roots stretch back to the settlement of St. Augustine in 1565, and slaves here took part in a wide array of industries, including cattle ranching in central Florida and sugar cane harvests in Tampa.
“From 1845 to 1860, it was one of the fastest-growing slave states in the union,” said Larry E. Rivers, author of “Slavery in Florida” and president of Fort Valley State University in Georgia. “When things were slowing down in Virginia and still going in South Carolina and North Carolina, slavery in Florida was growing in leaps and bounds.”
The state’s first slave laws were enacted by the Territorial Legislative Council in 1822. Mirroring the laws of other Southern states, they included such punishments as nailing slaves’ ears to posts if they were caught stealing.
Some of this history was recounted before the Legislature, and was included in the resolution. It was enough to draw clear sobs from Senator Arthenia L. Joyner, Democrat of Tampa.
The governor said such emotions were understandable.
“I don’t think you could listen to some of the punishments that were meted out in the past before Florida became more enlightened without being moved by it,” Mr. Crist said.
Florida has made other efforts to address the consequences of institutional racism; in 1994, the state allocated $2.1 million to surviving victims of the Rosewood massacre, the 1923 attack on a black town in North Florida.
And on Wednesday, Mr. Crist said he was open to evaluating whether broader reparations for slavery would be worth pursuing. He warned, however, that this was not the year, given Florida’s looming $3 billion budget deficit.
Some black leaders said they hoped that the addition of another state’s resolution would lead Congress to offer an apology of its own — if only to document regrets expressed in speeches by President Bush and President Bill Clinton.
At the very least, they said, Florida’s statement is likely to continue the country’s amplified conversation about race, inspired in part by Mr. Obama’s candidacy.
“It’s a good time for the whole nation to address race in a different way,” said Carol M. Swain, a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University who supports a national apology for slavery. “We do need to have the conversation. And it’s a much broader conversation than Barack Obama was able to introduce in his speech.”
Damien Cave reported from Miami, and Christine Jordan Sexton from Tallahassee.
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