6 February 2007

Yes, Sorry, there is a Virginia

Virginia has apologised for slavery and its treatment of Native Americans.

"The General Assembly hereby expresses its profound regret for the commonwealth's role in sanctioning the immoral institution of human slavery, in the historic wrongs visited upon native peoples, and in all other forms of discrimination and injustice that have been rooted in racial and cultural bias and misunderstanding," the resolution states.

The resolution was sponsored by Democratic Delegate A. Donald McEachin, whose great-grandfather was born a slave. Although he initially wanted an outright apology, McEachin said the final version of the House resolution "doesn't sugarcoat the matter either."

McEachin said it marked an important step in the state's effort to move beyond its history of stormy race relations, which included governmentsanctioned resistance to integration during the 1950s.

"There is some pain at first, but there is a beautiful product at the end," McEachin said of his colleagues' decision to embrace the resolution. "Virginia had nothing to do with the end of slavery. It had everything do with the beginning of slavery."

That makes it official. The Man of Steel is now behind the former seat of government of the Confederate States of America in his willingness to apologise for past wrongs. The idea of redress for past wrongs is apparently even more foreign to him.


Tom R said...

The last of the Southern US States didn't ratify the Thirteenth Amendment (abolishing slavery) until 1994, 130+ years after the Amendment took effect (after 3/4 of the other States' legislatures approved it).

Granted, the last 20 or so of those 130 years, non-ratification was a matter of oversight rather than determined "segregation forever!", but still...

Tom R said...

Actually 1995...

'It took 130 years, but the 'Deep South" State of Mississippi has finally accepted the verdict of the American Civil War by becoming the last State in the Union to formally approve the abolition of slavery. The State’s legislature yesterday approved without dissent or debate a resolution ratifying the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery. When other States approved the amendment at the end of the Civil Warm, the white law-makers of Mississippi, still bitter about their defeat by Abraham Lincoln’s forces, angrily rejected the amendment. The Mississippi hold-outs demanded that slave-holders first be compensated for the value of slaves freed at the end of the war. The amendment became law across the US on December 18, 1865, after being ratified by 27 of the 36 States that then existed. The other nine States gradually approved the amendment but the exception remained Mississippi, a home of much Ku Klux Klan activity and one of the fiercest opponents of the desegregation and black rights movements of the 1960s. Most current members of the State legislature were unaware that Mississippi had never ratified the amendment until a black Democrat, Senator Hillman Frazier, discovered the State’s stubborn refusal to sign while searching historical records earlier this year. Senator Frazier drafted yesterday’s resolution and convinced his colleagues it was time to put the matter to rest."

- Peter Wilson, "Mississippi ratifies 1865 law to abolish slavery," Weekend Australian (18-19 February 1995).