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Florida's legislature formally apologized Wednesday for the state’s “shameful” history of slavery, joining five other states that have expressed public regret for what Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama 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.
More than 140 years after the abolition of slavery, and four decades since the Civil Rights Movement culminated with sweeping civil rights legislation, are apologies useful? Do Americans whose ancestors never owned slaves bear any responsibility? Would a national apology for slavery heal lingering wounds? Should Americans consider reparations for slavery?