The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘African American

Harkin: An Apology For Slavery

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Iowa’s Sen. Tom Harkin spoke on June 18th in support of a bill that made an official government apology to black Americans for slavery in the United States, and for the government’s long failure to act against it. I am proud that one of my state’s Senators was a key mover in the apology. Every time America honestly faces the dark sides of its past, we become a better people.

Does it end racial division? Of course not. But, as with all trauma, healing only happens in small steps. Words are always part of those steps.   Some may say “Talk is cheap, nothing is solved, this Senate didn’t cause slavery anyway.”  But we are responsible for our history, and I’ll take an apology over official silence any day.


Today, Senator Tom Harkin delivered remarks on the Senate Floor just prior to the passage of S. Con. Res. 26, which he introduced and co-sponsored. The transcript follows.

“Madam President, the clerk just read for the first time ever in this body what we should have done a long time ago. An apology for slavery and the Jim Crow laws which, for a century after emancipation, deprived millions of Americans their basic human rights, equal justice under law and equal opportunities. Today the Senate will unanimously make that apology. Read the rest of this entry »

Former KKK member apologizes to 1961 Freedom Rider, now Congressman

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This’ll bring some healing – both directions, I expect.
clipped from blog.sojo.net

Rep. John Lewis

Rep. John Lewis

On May 9, 1961, when the … Freedom Riders came into town and attempted to enter an all white waiting room at the bus station, Ku Klux Klan member Elwin Wilson of Rock Hills, South Carolina was there. When he saw future U.S. Representative John Lewis enter, Wilson attacked, pummeling the young civil rights worker, who responded with nonviolence. […]A few weeks ago, Elwin Wilson contacted representative Lewis to apologize for beating Lewis nearly 48 years ago.

For the past several weeks, Wilson has been apologizing to members of the African-American community in Rock Hills for his numerous acts of racial hatred. He has had the guts to simply say “I’m sorry.” And representative John Lewis responded to this former member of the KKK with mercy, grace, and forgiveness […]

Lewis said that Elwin Wilson is the very first person out of the hundreds who attacked and abused him during the civil rights struggle to say “I’m sorry.”

If we are to continue to come to terms with our tragic racial history, Wilson cannot be the last to have the courage to say “I’m sorry.”

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Amen to that.  Takes guts to apologize.  Takes guts to forgive. But contrition and forgiveness are mighty restorers.

Just as racism—America’s “original” sin—has tainted us all, such transcendent heroism makes us all a little bit better.  Thank you, Wilson.  Thank you, Lewis.


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