Virginia Apologizes for Slavery


Some interesting news from my former home commonwealth Virginia. Both houses of the General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution to apologize for slavery and exploitation of Native Americans. The measure of course is merely symbolic. The crimes occurred a century and more ago committed by people long since deceased. Due to the liquidity of the American population it’s not even likely that these elected representatives nor their constituents include a great number of descendants of slave holders. But in another sense it is very appropriate. Slavery in England’s colonies began in Virginia when the first black indentured servants arrived in Jamestown in 1619. Virginia has a long history of leading the nation and inspiring revolutionary change, and I think this may be another case. I’ve read some other bloggers commentary about the resolution and it’s largely negative along the lines of “too little, too late” and “hypocrisy.” I think a commenter at the Busted Halo blog puts it best though when s/he states that it is a good thing to acknowledge our shameful past in the same way that we patriotically celebrate our more commendable moments. Whitewashing history generally is ineffective compared to simply letting it all hang out.

3 thoughts on “Virginia Apologizes for Slavery

  1. Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s take: Virginia Apologizes For Slavery, Now It’s Congress’ Turn.

    Virginia took a light stab at confronting the state’s hideous racial past. Congress should do even better by apologizing for slavery, and putting teeth behind the apology by passing the Conyers bill. If the commission deems that more needs to be done to help end discrimination and black poverty that’s a byproduct of the legacy of slavery, it should do that too. Virginia did the right thing on this too. It created a scholarship fund for blacks whose schools were closed during the state’s massive resistance campaign to integration from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s. But it all starts with the apology. If Virginia can apologize so should Congress.

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  2. Apologies latest legacy of slavery by Erin Texeira.

    Why are public officials making amends now?

    Because revelations about the past are pushing some people to think about race in America in new ways. Plus, echoes of racial bias remain all too obvious, and politicians may be grasping for new ways to show concern.

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  3. New Jersey is the first Northern state to apologize for slavery. Mackubin Thomas Owens writes an interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor called “A mistaken apology for slavery” (1/11/08). I disagree that it’s mistaken as well as the conclusions made in the final paragraph, but like a lot of the other points raised in the article

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