LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Mike Beebe questions moves to have Arkansas join other states in apologizing for its role in slavery.
"I think Arkansas probably has as good a feel for folks working together as any Southern state or any other state, so I think we've moved past that," Beebe told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia have issued slavery apologies. Some Arkansas lawmakers say the 50th anniversary of integration in Little Rock's Central High School on Sept. 25 would be an appropriate time for Arkansas' own legislative resolution or a statement of regret from the governor.
"I just think that it's time and it would serve as a great healing point. Certainly, as I think about our state, I think they're ready to make this decision," said state Rep. Wilhelmina Lewellen, a Democrat from Little Rock.
But the head of the state's Legislative Black Caucus, Sen. Irma Hunter Brown, said the issue isn't a major one. Legislators meeting this year did not discuss the subject. Unless called into a special session, the General Assembly is not set to meet again until 2009.
"I have not addressed it presently as a priority," said Brown, also a Little Rock Democrat. "I do embrace it as an issue of history that should be discussed and never be forgotten."
Asked if he would sign an apology if legislators approved one, Beebe said: "I'd have to deal with it then.
"Race relations and the ability of people to get along is based upon deeds more than it is words and we'll be judged by how we treat one another. That's how we should be judged."