U.S. Senate Passes Slavery Apology

June 19th, 2009 by

Miami Herald
The Senate passed a resolution apologizing for slavery, but a disclaimer has drawn criticism from black lawmakers in the House.

WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a resolution Thursday calling on the U.S. to apologize officially for the enslavement and segregation of millions of blacks and to acknowledge “the fundamental injustice, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws.”

The resolution, sponsored with little fanfare by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, passed on a voice vote. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where it may meet an unlikely foe: members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Several CBC members expressed concerns Thursday about a disclaimer that states that “nothing in this resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.”

The CBC members think that the disclaimer is an attempt to stave off reparations claims from the descendants of slaves. Congressional Black Caucus Chair Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said her organization is studying the language of Harkin’s resolution.

Other CBC members said they’ve read it and don’t like it. ”Putting in a disclaimer takes away from the meaning of an apology,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. “A number of us are prepared to vote against it in its present form. There are several members of the Progressive Caucus who feel the same way.”

Thompson and other Black Caucus members noted that a 1988 apology issued to the Japanese-Americans held in U.S. camps during World War II had no disclaimer and didn’t prevent them from receiving compensation.

Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., the Senate’s lone African-American, went to the floor after the Harkin resolution passed and said, “I want to go on record making sure that that disclaimer in no way would eliminate future actions that may be brought before this body that may deal with reparations.”

Such concerns could slow a resolution that many lawmakers and civil rights groups considered such a slam-dunk that plans are already under way for an elaborate signing and apology ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda next month.

The resolution states that Africans and their descendants were forced into slavery in the U.S. and “were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized, and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage.”

To that end, the resolution “apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws.”

8 Responses

  1. art buf

    so in other words we can kidnap,rape,enslave,force breed,terrorize and act like complete insane devils with no morals………but we not responsible for ANYTHING. uniquely American huh.

  2. Jerry

    Who is alive that can apologize for this atrocity?
    Weren’t they mostly sold to America by their own people?
    What is the percentage of people even living in America when there was slavery? My family was not.
    Shouldn’t reparation be from the slave owners families?
    What about all of the people who didn’t own slaves they have to pay?
    If the reparation comes from the government we all pay right?
    I’m really not one sided but, forever people have been mistreated by someone somewhere and we need to move on because nothing will give that time back.

  3. Dashawn

    i am an african american
    why should americans have to pay for something that happened well over 100 years ago
    the africans did sell their own people and why should anybody now get any money .they are not the only ones who lived the hard times . what about the jews.
    accept the apology and move on
    the government has been helping african americans for years.
    everybody just wants a hand out

  4. jay

    Oh yeah,today’s juneteenth! What a bunch of losers.

  5. Tommy

    What about the European Christians enslaved in Africa for 250 years by Muslims (1500′s-1700′s). Nobody wants to talk about those people, numbering over 1 million. Google “When Europeans were slaves”. David Horowitz also has a great article about reparations people need to look at.

  6. Tommy

    In no way do I wish to take away from the grisly, inexcusable acts of the U.S. slaveowners that must have had no repentance to those immoral proceedings so long ago. This was not nearly the first arena of slavery in the history of the world, but to many Americans, it is. Eight generations ago my family owned slaves, but in no way should I be responsible for their actions.

  7. Dan Munroe

    Couldn’t have said it better, Jerry.

  8. T

    Well to be honest, it was a governmental policy of discrimination. That is what seperates it. Even though it was over 100 years ago, the lag in education, finances, employment, and family structure in the Black community can be traced back to slavery, Jim Crow, and Seperate but equal laws. Yes many Africans sold other into slavery, but many were taken also. This does not negate the fact that the exist of Black and African peoples in the US has been legally hindered since this country’s inception. Even to this day, despite what little gains were made due to the Civil rights movement and Affirmitive Action.

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