NAACP chief apologizes for Trail Maids comments

Montgomery, Ala. (WSFA) --  Alabama's NAACP President Edward Vaughn is apologizing for comments made about the Mobile, Alabama area's Azalea Trail Maids.

The group of 50 high school seniors, dressed in pastel-colored dresses of yesteryear, are part of a long standing tradition that will soon become a part of Presidential history. The racially integrated group will walk in next week's inaguaral parade of President Barack Obama.

The controversy started last week when Vaughn said the costumes worn by the maids reminded him of slavery.

"These are not just regular costumes. These are the costumes that remind someone of the plantation in Gone with the Wind," Edward Vaughn said in a phone interview.

On Wednesday Vaughn apologized for saying the group would make Alabama a "laughing-stock" and said he never suggested excluding the group from the parade.

Mobile officials immediatly took offense to Vaughn's assertations. "We want everyone to know that these young ladies do not need to be identified with slavery," said Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine.

"I don't see what the dresses have to do with racism. I don't see it. It's just a regular dress to me.  Just a dress they wore back in the day," said Carolyn Tius of Montgomery.

Organizers stand behind the tradition, but opponents say tradition is the problem.

"We needed something that could show Alabama's great progress rather than something that shows a shameful past," Vaughn said at the time.

The Azalea Trail Maids haven't let the controversy slow their march to Washington, however. They leave for our nation's capital on Sunday.