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House To Take Up Apology For Slavery And Racial Segregation Next Week

The House is scheduled to take up a resolution (H.Res.194) next week "apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans."

The resolution was introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.), a white Democrat who represents a majority African-American district in Memphis. Early in 2007, Cohen expressed interest in joiing the Congressional Black Caucus but later backed away from that idea. The CBC's PAC has actually donated money to an African-American Democrat challenging Cohen, but he has received re-election backing from Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and some other prominent black lawmakers. 

The resolution, which was introduced at the beginning of the 110th Congress, makes no mention of reparations, but it does state that black Americans "continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow--long after both systems were formally abolished...."

The resoltion also acknowledges that an apology an apology "cannot erase the past, but confession of the wrongs committed can speed racial healing and reconciliation and help Americans confront the ghosts of their past."

Cohen's resolution, which will be taken up under suspension, meaning it must receive a two-thirds vote in order to pass. The resolution has 120 co-sponsors.

Here is the entire text of Cohen's resoltuion:

"Apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans.

Whereas millions of Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and the 13 American colonies from 1619 through 1865;

Whereas slavery in America resembled no other form of involuntary servitude known in history, as Africans were captured and sold at auction like inanimate objects or animals;

Whereas Africans forced into slavery were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized, and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage;

Whereas enslaved families were torn apart after having been sold separately from one another;

Whereas the system of slavery and the visceral racism against persons of African descent upon which it depended became entrenched in the Nation's social fabric;

Whereas slavery was not officially abolished until the passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865 after the end of the Civil War, which was fought over the slavery issue;

Whereas after emancipation from 246 years of slavery, African-Americans soon saw the fleeting political, social, and economic gains they made during Reconstruction eviscerated by virulent racism, lynchings, disenfranchisement, Black Codes, and racial segregation laws that imposed a rigid system of officially sanctioned racial segregation in virtually all areas of life;
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