Gov. Markell Signs Long-Awaited Slavery Apology

Jessica Masulli Reyes, The News Journal, February 10, 2017

Gov. Jack Markell attempted to heal wounds left by Delaware’s legacy of racial oppression by signing a resolution Wednesday formally apologizing for slavery and Jim Crow era laws.

The signing–a long-awaited symbolic gesture aimed at reconciliation–took place at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover and coincided with the celebration of Black History Month and the unveiling of an exhibit commemorating the 125th anniversary of Delaware State University.

Before signing the resolution, Markell said the “egregious sin” of slavery should never be forgotten and should not be separated from the state’s current racial justice challenges.

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Delaware is the eighth state whose legislature has formally apologized for slavery. Virginia, the state with the largest slave population in 1860, was the first to enact a resolution in February 2007.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar resolution in 2008, followed by the U.S. Senate in 2009.

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The resolution “acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow,” and “apologizes, on behalf of the people of Delaware, for the State’s role in slavery and the wrongs committed against African-Americans and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow.”

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“We know that every step we take toward equality of opportunity brings us closer to the society we dream of for us and for our children,” [Gov. Markell] said. “Signing this resolution is an important step but if anybody thinks this is the last step, then we are nowhere.”

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