The Congressional Black Caucus may have some reservations about the U.S. Senate’s support of a resolution offering a formal apology for slavery, but the NAACP is rather pleased with the effort.
The Senate passed a resolution Thursday calling on the U.S. to apologize officially for the enslavement and segregation of millions of blacks and to acknowledge “the fundamental injustice, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws.’
The resolution, sponsored with little fanfare by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) passed on a voice vote. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have expressed concerns about a disclaimer that states that “nothing in this resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.’
The CBC members think that the disclaimer is an attempt to stave off reparations claims from the descendants of slaves. Congressional Black Caucus Chair Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said her organization is studying the language of Harkin’s resolution.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) said, “Putting in a disclaimer takes away from the meaning of an apology. A number of us are prepared to vote against it in its present form. There are several members of the Progressive Caucus who feel the same way.”
The NAACP, meanwhile, is in favor of the apology – as is. The head of the NAACP released a statement that applauds the action by senators and calls on the House to follow suit.
“The apology for slavery and the era of Jim Crow segregation is long overdue and is the first step toward healing the wounds of African-American men and women throughout this country,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.
NAACP’s Hilary O. Shelton, vice president for advocacy, said the resolution “creates a watershed opportunity for Americans of all races, ethnicity and national origins to better understand the historic racial challenges of our nation and work together to craft a solution to the remnants of racism still lingering in our society.”