Senate Apologizes for Slavery

No, this is not an Onion Headline. Six months into Barack Obama’s presidency, the ultimate good ol’ boys club quietly comes clean and seeks reconciliation, justice and harmony for the American people. Better way, way, way, late than never.


The apology notes that Africans were “were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage” and noted that “the system of slavery and the visceral racism against people of African descent upon which it depended became enmeshed in the social fabric of the United States.” 

We know that problems remain. The resolution wisely acknowledges such: “African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow laws–long after both systems were formally abolished–through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty.” 

Shockingly late timing aside, there are passages of inescapable truth in the resolution that make it worth reading. It says, for example, that “an apology for centuries of brutal dehumanization and injustices cannot erase the past, but confession of the wrongs committed and a formal apology to African-Americans will help bind the wounds of the Nation that are rooted in slavery.” 

Yes, there are still wounds to be bound, and they are not all symbolic. The recent sub-prime mortgage crisis is reminder enough, for anyone who needs reminding. But that’s another debate. Another resolution. 

Apology accepted. 


Terence Samuel is Deputy Editor of The Root.