A bill that would permanently establish April as Confederate History and Heritage Month in Georgia sailed through a Senate committee Thursday without any opposition.
Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), the sponsor of Senate Bill 283, told the Senate Rules Committee that the proposal would help promote tourism in the state and preserve an important part of the state's and the nation's history.
"I'm not doing this for controversial reasons, but to commemorate a struggle that happened," said Mullis, whose North Georgia hometown was the site of a major Civil War battle in 1863.
The proposal has offended some civil rights leaders, who last week asked the Legislature and Gov. Sonny Perdue to offer a symbolic apology for the state's role in slavery.
The Rev. Francys Johnson, the NAACP's Southeast region director, said the organization is "vehemently opposed" to Mullis' bill and finds it hypocritical.
"At the same time that the proponents of this bill want to deny any responsibility for state sanctioned and sponsored slavery from 1755 to the end of the Civil War, they still feel the responsibility to honor the treasonous conduct of the Confederacy. It doesn't seem like you can have it both ways. You can't honor the past and not take responsibility for it."