House to Take Up Apology for Slavery and Racial Segregation

John Bresnahan, Politico, July 26, 2008

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 non-binding 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 reelection 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 resolution also acknowledges that 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 will be taken up under suspension, meaning it must receive a two-thirds vote in order to pass. The resolution has 120 co-sponsors.

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[Editor’s Note: Other stories about Congressman Cohen can be read here.]

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