Apologies Stand in Place of Remedies

By Terry Keleher Apr 25, 2007

The Alabama House and Senate approved resolutions apologizing for slavery on Tuesday, following similar moves by legislatures in North Carolina earlier this month and Virginia in February. The day before, the state celebrated its official Confederate Memorial Day. Hmmm. To become official, the resolutions must still pass in their opposite chambers and one of them needs to receive the governor’s signature. The measure passed 22-7 in the state Senate— that’s right—seven members actually voted AGAINST the resolution. And the Alabama House, perhaps to avoid forcing all of its members to have to go on record, passed its resolution with an unrecorded voice vote. Meanwhile, slavery apology measures are also moving along in Missouri and Georgia, but not without controversy. Two weeks ago, a the proposed Missouri resolution got reworked to remove the word “atoned,” just to be sure no one could interpret it to mean “moral wrongdoing” and try and use it as a basis for a legal claim for financial reparations. Georgia’s slavery apology measure has hit recent snags and its prospects may be slim this session, without even official support from the Democrat leadership. Wouldn’t it be better if these states looked at real remedies for the sore slavery left. Sure, apologies are needed and welcome, even if they come more than 140 years after slavery was legally abolished. They can spur healing, understanding and long overdue honesty about our history. But it sure would be sweeter if the apologies were accompanied by the restructuring of gross racial disparities in our economic and political system like a re-commitment to Affirmative Action – at least something. A partial vote in favor of an apology is not gonna cut it. Apologies without remedies are patronizing at best.