State Apologies

Official public apologies are an effective method of commemorating past injustice. Although not tangible, apologies constitute a moral acknowledgment of injustice.


On June 7, 2007, Alabama Governor Bob Riley signed Moore-Sanders Apology for Slavery Act (HJR 321) into law.


On May 21, 2009, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution No. 1 to formally apologize for its role in slavery and became the second northern state after New Jersey to issue an apology.


On March 26, 2008, the Florida legislature passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 2390 to formally apology for its role in slavery.


The Maryland General Assembly was the first to consider apologies for slavery. In 2000, Governor Parris Glendening established the Commission to Coordinate the Study, Commemoration, and Impact of Slavery’s History and Legacy in Maryland. The Commission was charged with identifying and preserving cultural and historical sites relating to slavery, and considering the lingering effects and legacy of the institution. Based on the findings of the Commission, in 2006 the Maryland General Assembly passed H.B. 1049, which required Governor Robert Ehrlich to apologize on behalf of the citizens of Maryland on September 22, 2006, the 144th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

New Jersey

On January 8, 2008, New Jersey state legislature passed ACR No. 270, 212 Legislature and became the first northern state to do so. New Jersey legislators also proposed the establishment of a special commission to investigate the legacy of slavery. Although the plan for the special commission did not win legislative approval, some of the initiatives were addressed by the existing New Jersey Amistad Commission, which creates educational programming about slavery.

North Carolina

The North Carolina legislature apologized for its role in slavery with the passage ofon April 12, 2007.

On April 12, 2007, the North Carolina legislature apologized for its role in slavery with the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 1557.


In January 2009, Tennessee State Representative Brenda Gilmore proposed resolution to apologize for slavery and racial discrimination. The resolution was challenged in the House of Representatives and withdrawn on April 23, 2009.


On February 24, 2007, Senate Joint Resolution No. 332 was passed and acknowledged the state’s role in slavery and made a formal apology.