US House of Representatives Formally Apologizes for Slavery

mybadLast month the United States Congress issued an unprecedented apology to black Americans for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow segregation laws. This came after resolutions were passed in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Alabama and New Jersey formally apologizing for the state’s roles in enslaving people of African descent. Congress had issued apologies before — to Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II and to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893. In 2005, the Senate apologized for failing to pass anti-lynching laws. However, past proposals demanding an apology for Slavery from Congress have stalled, partly over concerns that an apology would lead to demands for reparations — payment for damages. After their apology to Japanese-Americans in 1988, each survivor was paid $20,000 in damages (imagine how much “40 acres and a mule” have appreciated over the past century). So is this apology evidence of progress? Some people think not.

“The success of the Obama candidacy underscores the irrelevance of an apology” because it shows “enormous progress” in race relations, says Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative group that describes itself as opposed to racial preferences. “Haven’t we already moved beyond it?”

What do you think?

2 Comments to ‘US House of Representatives Formally Apologizes for Slavery’:

  1. Anonymous on 11 Aug 2008 at 3:52 pm: 1

    I don’t think a House apology will necessarily lead to reparations. It’s just a matter of public diplomacy. When the president announces a formal condemnation of enslavement, then we’re talking. Because the next logical question is: if we acknowledge that this went down on our watch and it was terrible.. what are we doing to bring rectify the injustice? It doesn’t have to be reparations, but something needs to be done. Maybe a national slavery museum or some other educational or economic initiative for the descendants of enslaved Africans.

  2. Pierce on 11 Aug 2008 at 4:26 pm: 2

    Before I forget.. the image I used in the post is actually the cover of a book entitled:

    “My Bad: 25 Years of Public Apologies and the Appalling Behavior That Inspired Them” written by Paul Slansky and Arleen Sorkin Bloomsbury

    It’s an interesting take on a recent history of public apology. It’s very relevant to the post, but I really just liked the picture.

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Published on August 11, 2008 at 1:18 pm. 2 Comments.
Filed under history,news/politics.