US House apologizes for slavery, Jim Crow laws

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] late Tuesday approved by voice vote a resolution [HR 194 materials] apologizing to African Americans for slavery and Jim Crow laws [backgrounder]. The resolution declares:

That the House of Representatives--

(1) acknowledges that slavery is incompatible with the basic founding principles recognized in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal;

(2) acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow;

(3) apologizes to African Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow; and

(4) expresses its commitment to rectify the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African Americans under slavery and Jim Crow and to stop the occurrence of human rights violations in the future.
The measure was drafted by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) [official website], who lauded the resolution's passage as a step forward for racial reconciliation [press release; recorded video]. AP has more. CNN has additional coverage.

The resolution, which follows a number of similar measures [JURIST report] in several US states, stopped short of any mention of reparations [ABA backgrounder], an issue that has frozen previous attempts to pass a congressional apology. Proponents described the legislation as "unprecedented," although Congress has previously issued other apologies to Japanese-Americans detained during World War II and Native Hawaiians for the conquest of Hawaii [texts].

 

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