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.
Virginia is celebrating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown and as part of those festivities, the Virginia General Assembly voted on a Resolution that expressed "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery.
The year was 1619 when the first Africans arrived as indentured servants at the Jamestown settlement. Later, Richmond, Virginia also became a point of arrival for African slaves and eventually developed into a slave-trade hub, as depicted here in this artist's rendering from 1845 of a slave auction.
Now, Virginia has become the first State to pass a Resolution apologizing for its role in slavery. Virginia lawmakers also expressed regret for "the exploitation of Native Americans" in the measure which was passed on the eve of the Jamestown 400th anniversary celebration.
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's is not required to sign it.
Governor Kaine highlighted the bipartisan success of his 2007 legislative agenda Saturday in a press release, but made no mention of the "slavery apology" Resolution passed by Virginia lawmakers, most likely due to his not having to sign the measure.
The passing of the "slavery apology" Resolution coincides with Black History Month, which Virginia celebrated with special tours of historic sites, music, drama, film and soul food.
The resolution says government-sanctioned slavery "ranks as the most horrendous of all depredations of human rights and violations of our founding ideals in our nation's history, and the abolition of slavery was followed by systematic discrimination, enforced segregation, and other insidious institutions and practices toward Americans of African descent that were rooted in racism, racial bias, and racial misunderstanding."