Conservative senator seeks a show of remorse for slavery from the General Assembly
by Jon Gillooly
January 18, 2013 01:07 AM | 6366 views | 20 20 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sen. Barry Loudermilk on the first day of the 2013 Georgia General Assembly (MDJ / Laura Moon)
Sen. Barry Loudermilk on the first day of the 2013 Georgia General Assembly (MDJ / Laura Moon)

ATLANTA – State Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-North Cobb) has filed a resolution that, if approved, would mark the state’s first official expression of remorse for condoning slavery.

But the move appears to have stopped just shy of an official apology.

“I think this is a very historical moment in the state of Georgia,” Loudermilk said during a press conference Thursday.

While there have been several attempts by the Legislature to apologize for Georgia’s past involvement in slavery, most recently in 2009, they have so far failed to pass.

Loudermilk said he was approached by a group of pastors who asked him to file the resolution.

“I can only tell you what they told me is, one, they felt this needed to come from a white member of the Legislature because it would be more meaningful than if it came from within the Black Caucus,” he said. “And, two, they said they believed that I had a pure heart and I would be doing (this) out of pureness not out of political gain.”

Some legislators may cringe at the idea of shining a light on a practice that was abolished nearly 150 years ago by the Civil War, but Loudermilk believes it’s still relevant.

“I think you have to recognize and we have to as a people come up and condemn the actions of our past if we’re going to reconcile the differences between the races,” he said. “I think this is a barrier between some of our races, between black Georgians and white Georgians and black Americans and white Americans even though no one living today in this state or nation was enslaved by this government, but yet the descendants of those slaves did experience segregation and we have to acknowledge the sins of our past.”

Loudermilk said while some may consider the resolution an apology, he doubted that the Legislature could apologize for the actions of a previous legislature.

“I guess we really can’t because we cannot bind a future legislature to anything, but we can express sincere remorse for what our state as a government condoned and through legal actions allowed and that’s what this resolution does,” he said. “It acknowledges the injustice that was done upon a class of people because if we don’t recognize the wrongs of our past then we’re destined to repeat those in the future.”

Senate Resolution 28 is a joint House-Senate resolution that, if passed, would make Georgia the ninth state to express regret or apologize for the act of slavery.

On the federal level, Loudermilk said Congress was the first branch of government to formally issue an apology for slavery. Shortly thereafter, the following states issued apologies or expressed regret for their involvement in slavery: Connecticut, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and New Jersey.

Loudermilk, a white legislator who represents a historically conservative district, said he doesn’t expect any serious opposition to the resolution.

“I couldn’t imagine that I do, but I’m sure there will be some that will say as an initial thought that I had when I was contacted, ‘well, I haven’t enslaved anyone and I don’t support slavery, why should I apologize,’”

But, in reality, it is the state recognizing that it was wrong in allowing slavery to be legal, Loudermilk said. “And, as our founders said, the utmost responsibility of our nation is to protect these rights, the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Loudermilk said the Declaration of Independence says such rights are inalienable – that they can’t be transferred or denied. Moreover, the rights, he said, are laws of nature and therefore superior to man’s laws.

“And it is ultimately our responsibility to support those,” he said. “I don’t see how you can get more conservative than those principles right there.”

Loudermilk said he had considered including other wronged groups in the resolution, but didn’t want it to become too broad.

“We actually considered the Cherokee Indians and the Trail of Tears in this resolution, but as we met with the citizens and members of clergy to work on this, they felt it was important to be very specific,” he said. “Let’s start here with the most egregious crime that we have committed against the laws of nature and then we can proceed from there. Of course the more narrow you make something the more meaningful it is.”

He declined to reveal the names of the pastors who approached him. He described them as “very prominent.”

Sue Everhart of east Cobb, chair of the Georgia Republican Party, said while she believes slavery was horrible, there is no need for such a resolution.

“I don’t think this is going to help anybody,” Everhart said. “I just think that is in our past. History is history. Are we going to apologize to Japan because we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki to keep from killing more and more of our American citizens? Are we going to apologize to the Germans because we beat their butts in World War II? I mean, this could just go on and on and on.”

Everhart said the General Assembly has more important things to do than expressing regret for something that happened 150 years ago.

“Everybody needs to put it behind them and let’s move forward and see that nothing like that happens again, so as far as right now, our General Assembly needs to worry about the budget and making sure we don’t have to increase taxes and create jobs in Georgia,” she said.

Yet Deane Bonner, chair of the Cobb NAACP, said she hopes the resolution will pass.

“It would make a difference,” Bonner said. “We can’t change history, but I guess it would be on paper that we all acknowledged that it happened, and we think Georgia ought to say they regret it, and that would certainly be a positive statement for us to accept. If I did you wrong and I came up and apologized to you, I think you would appreciate that because it is in some ways saying I’m sorry. We commend him. We definitely commend him.”

State Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Austell, said he doesn’t see any reason why someone would oppose the resolution.

“Sometimes you have to acknowledge past mistakes or things that you may regret, and as legislators we do represent the state of Georgia, and it’s part of Georgia’s history, so it just gives us an opportunity to move forward as a state,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson also believes Loudermilk’s motives for proposing the resolution are sincere.

“Based on his district and who he represents, I couldn’t see a political benefit for him,” Wilkerson said. “He said he talked to the faith community, he talked to legislators, I would have to believe it was sincere.”

The resolution will be assigned to a committee and then voted on in the floor of the Senate before transferring over to the House.

Loudermilk said he’s spoken with state Rep. Josh Clark, R-Buford, about carrying it in the House. Clark stood by Loudermilk during the press conference.


What do you think of the proposal to express remorse for slavery?

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January 22, 2013
This is just another obvious attempt by a spineless politician to buy the black vote...and it is sad that many people will eat these crumbs out of his hand! He is obviously trying to get the "minority" vote by apologizing for something he has no control over nor right to apologize for. Obviously his ancestors were northern liberals or he simply is just another political twit who thinks less of those he is elected to represent...what do they think of this? And the article called him a "conservative"...the only thing he ants to conserve is his political position and I pray to God his constituents kick him out of office next election!
David Duke
January 20, 2013
I am running against you next election milk boy.
West Cobb Farmer
January 19, 2013
Loudermilk is disturbing because he is just a sample of the rest of the ilk under the Gold Dome. Look at our 21st century contemporary problems... unemployment, loss of jobs to overseas, education, high school dropout rate, traffic, crime, drugs etc etc but rather than try to fix these problems Loudermilk wants to go back and try to fix 18th and 19th century Georgia. Loudermilk is not alone... he's just the one who's right now in the public eye.

Smart person
January 18, 2013
What a idiot he is to believe that this is something of imports. He is so gullible to bring this up cause the group of pastors and the NAACP asked him to, cause to me he shows that he is nothing more than a white puppet for the black cause. I know that if I was him I would have told them that it's something that happened over 150 years ago, it's water under the bridge get over it.
January 18, 2013

First, I think it's time for apologies from the ancestors of the black brothers and cousins in Africa who sold their brothers and cousins into slavery to the white folks. Slavery would have gone nowhere but for the black predators who kidnapped their brothers and threw them onto the boats.

Second, any apologies here in the US should be coming from the ancestors of the people who actually participated in slave ownership...all of them being DEMOCRATS. How about a big "I'm sorry" from the party that loved slavery...the DEMOCRATS?

Thirdly, had the slaves had access to GUNS, you can rest assured they would have had a whole lot more say in whether or not their predatory cousins put them on those boats.

Loudermilk is another clueless republican.
Some Advise
January 18, 2013
This is unbelievable. Our Nation is in a financial debacle, from lack of jobs, from excessive governmental spending, from nearly half of our country getting some type of government entitlement or help, and our State Senator from North Cobb thinks his work would best serve our great state by apologizing to people that have been dead for over 100 years?

You obviously don’t have your to do list in order, so let me help you Mr. Loudermilk . Tomorrow morning, get with your cronies and figure out a way to increase student learning in this state. Maybe that could start by motivating Parents to raise their expectations for their kids, share with them how important it is to actually spend time with and raise their kids and not blame everyone for their kids failures.

When that job is completed, you can start on creating jobs. Oh, I forgot, Government doesn’t make great employers. So, let’s get folks that do know how to create steady, prosperous job markets…the private sector. How you might ask? Create great tax incentives and cut out all the red tape BS give benefits to businesses and companies that choose to build and create jobs in this state.

After that is completed, you can then start weaning all of our entitled folks that believe work is optional, or a nuisance. Our government was never created by our founding fathers to give handouts and freebies. It was built to preserve the rights and opportunities for people to go out and create their own lives and lifestyles; not support them! Hunger can actually is a great motivator.

I figure after all that is done, everyone will happy because everyone will have a job, they will be self-sufficient, have some self-worth, be able to take care of their own families and won’t need you or this State to say sorry for some atrocities that happened 200 years ago. Stop apologizing for something you, I or anyone else around here had anything to do with. Give people an opportunity to improve their lives not a crutch and an excuse!

By the way, you will certainly not be getting my vote in the future.

January 19, 2013

Please consider running for office to replace Mr Loudermilk
el paso
January 18, 2013
I have deplored the political positions taken by Loudermilk, and I think this latest proposal is also misplaced. Why not actually do something useful like propose Georgia accept the federal money available so more Georgians are actually covered or to propose ethics legislation which does not have so many exceptions that it means nothing.

Trey Samuels
January 18, 2013
I have no problem with someone saying that they do not want to apologize for something they believe has nothing to do with them but the analogy this man used is just offensive. Comparing acts of war and atom bombing in Japan, which is probably a good thing to apologize for even if it was necessary, to slavery is just ridiculous. Its just plain offensive. Africans were not disrupting anything at war with anyone, beyond themselves. There wasn't a some overarching reason or perceived moral purpose for slavery besides greed of individuals in states like Georgia. I'm just saying the reason we can never get past these arguments because of the stupid responses people make to someone saying that they don't agree with. If you think someone is acting immature it doesn't give you the right to say something offensive.

Here's to hoping we can have more reasonable arguments to this debate.

-23 year old African American
The real T. Samuels
January 18, 2013
Trey, if you would like to stay away from offensive comments, you might start with refraining from stating that individuals are making "stupid ressponses" to a topic that you likely know little about. I am a black man...36. I don't call myself "African American" because I do not choose to call each and every walking individual Scottish Americans, Iranian Americans etc....hopefully you get the point. My ancestors were sold by there very own families and communities out of the very greed you refer to. It took a republican man to end the process, and we now have our own kind that believe the democratic party has the answers to help us. They are slowly killing us by not motivating us to do for ourselves. No apology is needed by a white man who is obviously a career politician trying to do a favor or make a pay back to whom he "says" are pastors that he declines to reveal. Our politicians are out of control. I was an Obama supporter the first time around, but I'm sad to say we've made a huge mistake. I truly hope you receive your education from the truth. That is what our young black brothers lack the most these days. Good day to you.
January 18, 2013
She's comparing our despicable kidnapping of men, women, and children, to engaging in war? In what kind of backward logic is she engaging?
January 18, 2013
Why not instead apologize for Jim Crow segregation? There are no living victims or perpetrators of slavery, but there are of Jim Crow.

Of course, with an official apology would come talk of reparations, i.e. cash money from the government.
South Cobb guy
January 18, 2013
Your district elected you for this?
Julie Smart
January 18, 2013
Again, these are past errors. 95% of Georgians were not rich enough to own slaves and most of those owners were transplants from other states. What about an apology from the ones, their own people, that sold them into slavery? Everything under the sun has been done and more to rectify the injustice that had been done. My people, the Cherokee, lost more. Their land and lives were taken from them. When things get rough for someone, they throw the "apologize for slavery" into the mix. I am waiting for an apology to my people...I'm waiting....cause it will not happen. This is what keeps unrest between the black and white folks.
Southern Patriot
January 18, 2013
"Even though no one living today in this state or nation was enslaved by this government" said Loudermilk. Of course there are slaves of the "Gubment", today they're called welfare recipients.

A Slave
January 18, 2013
No, welfare recipients are not slaves. The taxpayers who get up early each morning and go to work, work hard all their lives and support those who make bad decisions and produce generations of welfare recipients are the slave owners.

I'll bet most of the population of Africa only wishes their ancestors had been sold into slavery in the US because their lives would be infinitely improved.
Johnny Tremain
January 18, 2013
As a Republican, I'm sure Loudermilk is sincere, and I'm sure he believes he is doing the right thing (which he is, in one respect). But Everhart is also right, we should be getting on with important business and not getting bogged down in history we had no part in.

The most important thing that jumps out is Loudermilk's flawed statement about none of us being enslaved by government. For a Republican to make that statement without irony is simply ignorant. We are all slaves to this particular government, at the local and national levels. And it's Republicans like Loudermilk who cannot see the fight before them, who are losing ground to Marxists, Communists and playing into the idea that America is inherently bad and we all owe some type of penance. Wake up Loudermilk! Read Alinsky. Know that your career might be over, not because of some perceived racially motivated declaration, but because you don't get it about government making ALL of us its slaves and you don't get it about your constituents want something DONE NOW to alleviate the burdens government has placed upon us all.
January 18, 2013
I agree.

If he's going down that road, I want all men to apologize to women for assault on women done by men. No matter the color. All men. Apologize to ALL women.

*eye roll*

Once you go down the slippery slope...

And ask another commenter pointed out, sounds to me like Mr. Loudermilk has way too much time on his hands. I wonder if his constituents would rank this topic most important to tackle during his time representing them?
Really? Louder?
January 18, 2013
Senator Barry Loudermilk obviously has too much time on his hands. Yes, what about Indians? What about Prisoners of War? What about about whites who are discriminated against 150 years after "slavery." Will you ever ever ever "get over it?" What about pimps of color today that exist? Will "Louder" Milk issue a resolution against pimps that are of color? Instead of looking back 150 years, Loudermilk needs to focus on pimphood in present day. Pimps of color in modern day society are more deplorable. Where is LOUDER Milks's objection to that?
Get over it
January 18, 2013
The fact is that slavery was long ago and needs to be dropped. It has been over for so long and isn't our apology to make. Take accountability for your lives now. Geeze.
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