slaves2.jpgWASHINGTON – Germany has apologized for its treatment of Jews in World War II. Australia has apologized to its aborigines. And Tony Blair has apologized to the Irish for Britain’s handling of the potato famine.

American presidents have come close to apologizing to African-Americans for slavery, and several have spoken of its evil. Soon, in a measure introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the House could finally apologize for slavery, Jim Crow segregation and the continuing legacy of discrimination against blacks.

As of last week, Cohen had collected 90 co-sponsors, many of them by sending separate letters to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Jewish caucus, and members from states that have considered or passed similar resolutions. “Slavery and Jim Crow laws were able to survive in our country because they were protected by the actions and acquiescence of the United States government, including Congress; we are still fighting their enduring legacies to this day,” the letters say.

As the effort proceeds in Washington, Alabama became the fourth Southern state yesterday to apologize. Gov. Bob Riley signed a resolution expressing “profound regret” for Alabama’s role in slavery and apologizing for slavery’s wrongs and its lingering effects. “Slavery was evil and is a part of American history,” Riley said. “I believe all Alabamians are proud of the tremendous progress we have made and continue to make.”

Legislatures in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina have already approved apologies. Alabama’s resolution describes “centuries of brutal dehumanization and injustices” and says “the vestiges of slavery are ever before African-American citizens.”

On Cohen’s effort, retired NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks said, “Anything we can do as a nation to heal the wounds that were inflicted, why, that’s good … It makes the nation look at the mistakes that were made, and acknowledge they were made, and says we recognize it’s not over yet, so that whatever we can do to alleviate it ought to be done.”

But the idea of an apology is not universally appreciated. Fred Lincoln of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said it doesn’t even make sense.

“There are no slaves left and there are no slaveholders, so this is silly,” he said.


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  • This is ridiculous. It takes a freaking bill to evoke an actual apology for slavery?! You’ve gotta be kidding me. I can’t wait to leave this ridiculous country. To bad I already wasted eight years of my life serving it in the Army. A waste of damn time for a country that doesn’t even have a miniscule amount of respect for the people it has barbarized.


    I dunno! It was nice that Tony Blair apologised for our Irish Famine – he forgot we were also sold as slaves and were put in the position of having to sell ourselves. I don’t care about apologies they are only words anyhow. What I think we all, including those of you who are ancestors of slaves, should concentrate on is that we don’t have blood on our hands right now – what are we doing to prevent slavery in Africa right now? What are we doing about women and children slaves of which there are millions that are known of around the world? What are we doing when we buy products that are the results of this slavery. None of us are pure, none of us are guilt free, What do you think of when you see a beggar in the street? What do you think of when you see a white person you don’t like, a black person you don’t like, a muslim a person who is rich or poor. I think no one can apologise for the past when it was not in their control but what they can do is try to ensure they are not ignoring it happen under their own noses in another guise. It also seems that only rich nations are being asked to apologise – what of all the other nations that undertook slavery from Africa and other countries – who still do the same – it seems that there is a little hyprocracy around at times or perhaps ignorance.


    I forgot to mention also that Africa is not innocent in this and still entertains slavery of their own people – should they not apologise to them and change the laws in their coutries to curtain this dehumanising of people ? What about the sex slave trade – you ever use a prostitute? a masseaur? a hostess? were they foreigners – how did they get where you are? Are they free? do you know? do you care?