JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has apologized to dozens of civil rights activists who were carted off to the state's notorious Parchman prison in the 1960s for attempting to desegregate interstate travel.
In remarks Sunday at hotel in Jackson, Barbour told the Freedom Riders: "We apologize to you for your mistreatment in 1961, and we appreciate this chance for atonement and reconciliation."
The Freedom Riders are in Jackson this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1961 protest.
The governor's apology comes months after a string of remarks his critics have described as racially insensitive, and weeks after he announced he wouldn't be a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
Former protester Hezekiah Watkins says Barbour's comments on Sunday reflect how much has changed since 1961.
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