by: Alfred W. Speer, Clerk
On February 26 of this year, Karl Kurtz wrote on the NCSL blog "The Thicket at State Legislatures" that the Virginia General Assembly became the first legislature to express remorse over the existence of slavery in the United States. This action by the Virginia legislature garnered national press coverage, the latest occurring just this week when the LA Times ran a story on the mounting wave of legislative efforts to apologize for slavery. However, Louisiana’s Legislature was 12 years ahead of the current wave.In the 1996 First Extraordinary Session of the Louisiana Legislature, Rep. Yvonne Dorsey and 19 other House members and 2 Senators authored a concurrent resolution [HCR No. 22] which resolved:"the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby acknowledge the past role of the state of Louisiana and the people of the state in the establishment and maintenance of the institution of slavery and the subsequent injuries it produced; and the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby extend to the African-American citizens of Louisiana a sincere expression of regret for such role, and does pledge that all citizens of the state shall now join in a united effort to assure that each and every citizen may enjoy the full blessings of liberty."
Perhaps Virginia's apology for slavery renders that effort first in the current legislative season and is the impetus of such resolutions but our Legislature preceded Virginia by 12 years in expressing their collective regret for the state's role in enslaving Africans.
Regrettably, Rep. Dorsey’s efforts went unnoticed by the media and remain lost in the clatter of today’s reporting. We Louisianans know better. Congratulations, Yvonne!