U.S. Congress On Slavery: We’re Sorry…Again*

By Gina Acebo Jun 19, 2009

*Disclaimer: But don’t expect any funded mandates for real change. Today is Juneteenth, the national recognition of the ending of slavery in the United States. What makes this year’s commemoration fascinating for me is that yesterday marked the U.S. Senate’s unanimous vote to offer a formal apology for slavery. In a previous post about HR 442, I wrote that acknowledging wrong doing and making apologies is important in a process for healing and change. But apologies and their intent, are not enough… words must be matched with action for racial justice. One element worth noting about the Senate’s vote is that "nothing in this resolution (a) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or (b) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States" (read: don’t even think about the U.S. government paying reparations to the descendants of African slaves.) While we might debate what the impact would be to repay generations and generations of Black families for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws, I’m wondering what it mean to take those resources put them towards pro-active measures, policies, and actions that institute racial equity for Blacks now and for the future. If we were to re-imagine what reparations could/would mean for racial justice, what’s your vision for change?