by Eric King
Memphis, TN (WHBQ FOX13 myfoxmemphis.com) -- Right now, a bill going through the United States House of Representatives asks the federal government to formally apologize to African-Americans for slavery.
Men and women, old and young were ranked with horses, sheep, and swine, all holding the same rank in the scale of being.
“More than 130 years ago, Fredrick Douglass described the bloody plight of African-Americans enslaved for more than two centuries,” said State Representative Steve Cohen of Memphis, who is a sponsor of the bill.
When we talk in terms of time, years run together. Centuries are easier to count. So, now more than three centuries after the first slaves were chained, the United States government stands on the verge of apologizing.
“It would be an apology by the government for having the institution of slavery and the jim crow laws that followed for another hundred years,” said Cohen, who says there's a bill going through congress that would acknowledge the mistakes of the past, and formally say, as a government, “we're sorry.”
But how will the rhetoric of a written apology translate into reality?
“I think it's certainly a nice gesture,” said Tomeka Hart, of the Memphis Urban League. “For some people i think it will make them feel better if the government is saying they're sorry, but the apology is nothing if we're not still looking at the realities people live in and what do we do the help change the mindset.”
While words are used to make apologies, “I don't think a verbal apology would help out with much,” said Derek Sheridon.
The efficacy of an apology may be measured by action. “It's nice to give that gesture to acknowledge a wrong that has happened, but how do we move forward,” said Hart.
Formal apologies for slavery aren't unheard of. In fact, several states including Arkansas and Alabama neighbors have them on the books.
But should this bill pass, it would be the first time such legislation has appeared on the national level.
a bill where the government apologizes to blacks for slavery
Published: July 6, 2007, 9:37 pm
by Eric King