Lott Under Fire

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Some blacks still appear unwilling to accept the apologies offered by Senate Republican leader Trent Lott and expressed doubt that he is remorseful about making remarks some perceive as racially insensitive.

Lott appeared Monday on BET's "Conversation with Ed Gibson." Some say the senator's latest apologies did not sound heartfelt and he should not become Senate majority leader in the next Congress.

One viewer, Beverly Greene, said it didn't appear Lott was going to change his life and begin to embrace all people. In the 30 minute BET interview, Lott said he had made a, "terrible mistake, used horrible words."

The Senate GOP is set to meet Jan. 6 to decide whether Lott's leadership of their majority could be too much of a liability to their agenda in Congress and to President Bush's re-election.

A furor erupted over Lott's Dec. 5 comment during a toast for Sen. Strom Thurmond. Lott said the nation might have been better off if then pro-segregationist Thurmond had been elected president when he ran in 1948.

Georgia Representative John Lewis has emerged as an unlikely defender of Sen. Lott.

Lewis accepted Lott's apologies for a racially divisive statement and refused to join those calling for Lott's ouster as Republican leader.

Lewis is a black Democrat from Atlanta who is known for his prominent role in the civil rights movement. Lott called Lewis to discuss comments the Mississippi senator made that seemed to endorse the segregationist 1948 presidential campaign of Strom Thurmond.

Lewis said Republicans would have to decide whether to replace Lott as majority leader when Congress reconvenes next month. But he offered some encouraging words for the senator on a day Republican colleagues seemed poised to remove Lott from power.

Lewis said it is in keeping with the philosophy of nonviolence to forgive and move on.