United States Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has introduced a concurrent resolution that would offer a formal apology to African Americans for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws that lasted until the 1960’s.
S. Con. Res. 26 is co-sponsored by three Republicans (Sam Brownback, KS, Bond, MO, and Cochran, MS) and five Democrats (Levin, MI, Kennedy, MA, Durbin, IL, Lautenberg, NJ, and Stabenow, MI). During last year’s presidential campaign Senator McCain offered his strong support for such an apology as well. The House passed a similar resolution last July, but my understanding of a concurrent resolution (thanks, James!) is that this bill will be voted on by both the Senate and the House and, if approved, would represent the will of the full Congress. It would not go to the President for his signature.
Anyone who has read my book, Inheriting the Trade, heard me speak about apology, reparation and reconciliation (watch on YouTube), knows of my strong support for efforts such as this. Healing from the long, dehumanizing and brutal legacy of slavery requires the acknowledgment of the damage that was done by those of us who have benefited from the legalized system of enslavement that built this country. Healing requires an apology by those who committed the harm. Though I was not alive at the time and never enslaved anyone the United States Government was, and is, alive–from 1776 through today–and an apology is not only a required step on the road to repair but is long overdue.
For a great book on this subject, check out On Apology by Aaron Lazare.
The resolution clearly details the horrors of the system of slavery in this country and the government-supported segregation and (often violent and deadly) discrimination that followed abolition at the end of the Civil War. And though Jim Crow officially ended with the passage of Civil Rights legislation in the 1960’s the resolution clearly–and accurately–recognizes that “the vestiges of Jim Crow continue to this day.”
I strongly encourage you to read the text of Senate Concurrent Resolution 26 here. It is a powerful, well-written document and will only take a few minutes to read. I then ask you to contact your senators and encourage them to support S. Con. Res 26.