House posed to apologize for Slavery, Jim Crow

My humblest apology. However, apologizing for Jim Crow laws at this juncture is also stupid. In interest of fairness, here is another presidential speech…just prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

Other features will be also requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.

In this respect, I want to pay tribute to those citizens North and South who have been working in their communities to make life better for all. They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency. Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom’s challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage. My fellow Americans, this is a problem which faces us all – in every city of the North as well as the South. Today there are Negroes unemployed, two or three times as many compared to whites, inadequate in education, moving into the large cities, unable to find work, young people particularly out of work without hope, denied equal rights, denied the opportunity to eat at a restaurant or lunch counter or go to a movie theater, denied the right to a decent education, denied almost today the right to attend a state university even though qualified. It seems to me that these are matters which concern us all, not merely presidents or congressmen or governors, but every citizen of the United States.

This is one country. It has become one country because all of us and all the people who came here had an equal chance to develop their talents. We cannot say to 10 percent of the population that you can’t have that right; that your children cannot have the chance to develop whatever talents they have; that the only way that they are going to get their rights is to go into the streets and demonstrate. I think we owe them and we owe ourselves a better country than that. Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents. As I have said before, not every child has an equal talent or an equal ability or an equal motivation, but they should have the equal right to develop their talent and their ability and their motivation, to make something of themselves. We have a right to expect that the Negro community will be responsible, will uphold the law, but they have a right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be color blind, as Justice Harlan said at the turn of the century.

Seems to state the situation very well. The difference between President Kennedy’s speech and the resulting action of Congress compared to the current Congress? That Congress actually did something meaningful in regards to Jim Crow laws. Apology-schmology.

[quote=Dale_M]The resolution doesn’t do harm. Does it do good? I don’t know. Perhaps if we have any African-American readers they might want to give their perspective.

It means absolutely nothing…IMO it is political puffery and being done in an attempt to bolster a particular candidate.

I am glad to see that the House is voting on meaningless, non-binding resolutions on topics out of a high school history book, instead of adressing the fact that our economy is in a freefall, thousands of babies and adults are being murdered every day, we are trying to fund and manage two wars, we are amassing a national debt and trade deficit now into numbers that most people cant even fathom, not to mention all the other problems the country has.

But good job Representives, you have something to put on your privileged franking mail in the coming months as you run for re-elections. Cant have the voters thinking you dont care about minorities.

oh and by the way, frank mail isn’t free, it just adds 43 cents more to the national debt.

p.s.s: Do you really think that there are many African-Americans out there that are going to care that this is being passed? When racism abounds. Just today at work I was cashiering for a black man, while some guy to the left of me was complaining to the store manager, and me and my costumer could both hear as he stated “but if it were a dark person…”.

I’m black and while I agree that public gestures are less important than real action to promote equality, I think symbolic acts also have value and meaning.

As a society, we choose everyday what good or evil acts of our long dead forefathers we take credit for. Part of what makes this country great is the pride we take in the good things this nation has acheived and contributed to the world. If we can bask in the glow of our forefathers’ positive achievements, what is so outlandish about apologizing for the bad things?

Not only individual families, but whole communities have benefited from slavery and those benefits did not end with abolition. Those benefits did not end with one generation either and slavery/Jim Crow was not all that long ago when counted in terms of generations.

If I’m rich today because of taking advantage of the poor, what are the chances my great-great grandchildren are going to be well-educated and privileged? They might be model citizens and superb Christians, but their lives will still have been enriched by my avarice, so what’s the big deal if they express apologies for my actions? They’re not giving away all their wordly goods or living in a state of perpetual self flagellation - just acknowledging past injustices.

Seems to me the Pope has been known to apologize over past incidents/injustices involving the Church. If he can humble himself for the past sins of others, why can’t we? Guess He takes the belief in the “communion of saints” literally - dead, or alive, God’s children are a community with things to be proud of as well as things to apologize for. But then we have a secular government so maybe the reasoning does not apply…

While this is true, I would think that Supreme Court rulings and other such laws or executive orders(meaning it can come from any of the three branches) would have been the apology. the switch from Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board wouldnt have happened if the Government didn’t recognize its error and want to make right. You can probably count on one hand the number of times such a reversal has happened. Laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to me, is an apology for such lax enforcement of the
14th and 15th amendments.

But for the Papacy, since it was just informal policy, that isn’t possible. It wasn’t by law that many things were done, so it cant be by law that they are undone

Our nation is guilty of many sins…no rational person can deny that. But this debt has been paid many times over…and on this board, I’m a liberal.

I have some serious Irish ancestory…should I be expecting an apology for such things as “Irish need not apply?” If you check the history, people of African descent were hired before the Irish in post-war (Civil) America.

I do not recall any Act of Congress addressing the discrimination against my Irish, or German, ancestors. Same era, same crime.

Admitting an offense is nothing evil, something we as Catholics obviously believe, but let’s be even-handed.

If I rambled, please accept my apology,


This is an area in which I am unfamiliar. Are you saying that Irish immigrants and their descendants have faced the same level of persecution and oppression as have black Americans?


Initially, without question. It’s worth a read.


“Same era, same crime” absolutely does not apply to the history of blacks in America. Not to beat a dead horse but equating slavery to discrimination endured by various immigrant groups trivializes the atrocities our people endured. The only comparable experience in recent history that I could see is the holocaust and we know the Jews are never going to let anyone forget about that.

For some perspective, I suggest the biography of Olaudah Equiano.

I don’t believe John’s point was that discrimination against the Irish was equivalent to slavery. Rather, that Jim Crow laws are similar. We were chastized earlier for ignoring Jim Crow and discussing slavery…don’t make the same mistake. :stuck_out_tongue:

As John said, there were acts of Congress and the courts in regards to slavery and Jim Crow laws. I’m not aware of any such action (on a federal level) that was passed specifically to end discrimination against the Irish. The government apologized to the Japanese interred in camps during WWII…but no apologies to the Irish. There seems to be a different standard here.

While it is true that many groups have been discriminated against through the years, it is also true that only blacks were enslaved and then, after slavery was abolished, systematically discriminated against because of their skin color during the Jim Crow era. It’s much easier for a person with white skin to assimilate and Irish discrimination was soon followed by that directed at the Eastern and Southern Europeans who followed them. It was much more short lived and much less systematic (on a national level) and much less damaging to the race as a whole than what has been perpetrated against blacks in this country. It’s like stubbing your toe vs. having your leg amputated – one is way more serious than the other. Both are bad but there is no real overall comparison.

Please note that I am not trying to make light of the discrimination against the Irish or any other people. Indeed, when the Irish first arrived in the US they were not considered white. It was only with the growing influx of more olive skinned folks from other parts of Europe, which made the whites in the US nervous about maintaining a “white” majority – especially those in the NE where newly arrived immigrants tended to congregate – that the Irish suddenly found themselves labeled “white”. What this example demonstrates is how US discrimination is focused on people of color and on the maintenance of a white supremacist system – which was, of course, the point of Jim Crow.

Also, since you mentioned Japanese internment during WWII and the apology therefore, I want to point out that these were American citizens who were rounded up, denied any due process, and interned. They were not given a chance to even put their belongings in storage – most lost everything they had that they could not carry. Again, this is in a class by itself (thankfully, we seem to have learned a lesson).

I don’t understand.

Are you saying that slavery had little to do with it? Is there another thread where this is discussed?

I’m from the South, too (SC). I agree with what was posted earlier: slavery had nothing to do with the war. On the other hand I believe slavery had everything to do with the war. Contradicting myself, I know. Two sides of the same coin.

Then easiest thing to apologize for is something you didnt do.

The Civil war was indeed about States Rights-the rights of states to allow slavery.

The north did not go to war to end slavery-they went to war to stop secession… However the south seceded over the issue of slavery. No slavery, no war.

Contradiction indeed. It seems that maybe “state’s rights” is a merely a euphemism for preserving slavery? If so, this would explain it.

The north made the war about slavery because it was a guaranteed way to keep other countries from allying with the South(as most other countries had already outlawed it themselves)

A quote from Lincoln

. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

Doesn’t sound like he was all about the freeing of slaves there. Note also, that the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves only in the rebel states, which is ironic for a couple of reasons
he had no power over those states, they had their own national government
he made slaves in the south more persons that slaves in the north
most of the north would not have been against freeing all slaves, showing that his move was merely political

What the Proclamation did, was make the South look bad in the eyes of the world they were now “breaking the law”, as they were still considered by the world as part of the US, something Lincoln desperately needed to keep that way. It also gave the slaves in the south a newfound reason to fight against their masters and other southerners, it was now for their freedom.

You may argue that the civil war started over slavery, and it did, but that was just the proverbially straw that broke the camel’s back. Kind of like how the Attack on Pearl Harbor caused us to enter WWII, but Pearl Harbor was clearly not the cause of WWII. Nor did was it the real cause we entered, or else we would have stayed out of Europe. They had nothing to do with us. We entered WWII because our allies were losing. Pearl Harbor was used to gain support for a war that was not otherwise important to people

That’s about it.

You conventionatly left out his next post which sums it up nicely.

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