Governor Unsure if Arkansas Needs to Apologize for Slavery

LITTLE ROCK, AR - As attention begins to focus on the 50th anniversary of the 1957 Central High School crisis in the fall, some Arkansas lawmakers are looking even further back.  Black legislators are torn over whether it would be appropriate for the state to apologize for years of slavery.

Alabama last week became the fourth Southern state to formally apologize for slavery.  Representative Wilhelminia Lewallen, a Democrat from Little Rock, says she would like the state to consider an apology and thinks Governor Beeb could issue a proclamation expressing regret for the practice.

Beebe said he didn't know if an apology is needed, saying the state has "moved past that."  When asked by The Associated Press if he would sign an apology if legislators approved one, the governor said he'd "have to deal with it then."

Senator Irma Hunter Brown, a Democrat from Little Rock, serves as the head of the black caucus.  She says she doesn't view an apology as a top issue for the group.

Senator Hank Wilkins IV, a Democrat from Pine Bluff, says blacks should not have to ask for such an apology as "it cheapens the apology on the part of the one who is apologizing."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)