The North Carolina Senate apologized yesterday for the legislature’s role in promoting slavery and Jim Crow laws that denied basic human rights to the state’s black citizens.
Following the lead of lawmakers in neighboring Virginia, the Senate unanimously backed a resolution acknowledging its “profound contrition for the official acts that sanctioned and perpetuated the denial of basic human rights and dignity to fellow humans.”
“This is a way to reflect upon this and express our understanding and our regret for official actions of our state,” said Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, a Democrat and the bill’s primary sponsor.
Such an apology, Rand added, will help us “to try to be better children of God and better representatives of all the people of this state.”
The resolution recounts a long history of discrimination against North Carolina’s black population, from the first slaves in the British colony of “Carolina” in 1669 through the Civil War and then Jim Crow laws that promoted inequality into the mid-1900s.
Black members of the Senate said they were pleased to see the resolution pass but added that lawmakers also need to help improve the lives of blacks who still suffer from the effects of slavery and discrimination. They called for improvements to the state’s education system and giving black-owned businesses more access to state contracts.
“This is a noble gesture, but . . . don’t let it end here,” said Democratic Sen. Larry Shaw. “There’s plenty of work to be done.”