Senate passes a resolution apologizing for slavery

The U.S. Senate has approved a fiercely worded resolution that attempts to formally apologize for the “fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery” of African-Americans.

The unanimous voice vote came five months after Barack Obama became the first black U.S. president, and ahead of the June 19 “Juneteenth” celebration of the emancipation of African-Americans at the end of the Civil War in 1865.

Approval by the House of Representatives, which could come as early as next week, would make it the first time the entire Congress has formally apologized on behalf of the American people for one of the most grievous wrongs in U.S. history.

The bill, which doesn’t require Obama’s signature, states that Congress “acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws” that enshrined racial segregation at the state and local level in the nation well into the 1960s.

And Congress “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.”

It also recommits lawmakers “to the principle that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and calls on all people of the United States to work toward eliminating racial prejudices, injustices, and discrimination from our society…”

And Harkin said a “fitting ceremony” to mark final passage would occur in early July. Supporters hope Obama will attend the event.

“Overdue” hardly defines my feelings. Last month I celebrated the 50th anniversary of my first overt political act challenging the American status quo. Getting into a VW Microbus with three of my friends from the streets of industrial New England, we traveled with the college students who owned the camper down to a town in Maryland to deliberately break the law of the land by sitting down at a drugstore counter and ordering Coca-Colas.

We were less than 50 miles from Congress and the reason we violated the law is that we were a “mixed” group – Black and white.

That’s the America I grew up in. A lot has changed. A lot hasn’t. Including the jive excuses from people who will whine about this resolution. They still are ignorant racist bastards as far as I’m concerned.

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