Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Apology for Slavery

Both Maryland House and Senate have now passed resolutions apologizing for past slavery. Here's what The Post reported today:

"The House broke into applause after delegates approved the resolution, 130 to 6. The Senate passed the same measure unanimously this month. Maryland would become the second state -- after Virginia, earlier this year -- to express regret for slavery if one of the two measures is passed by the other body.

The Maryland resolution says slavery 'fostered a climate of oppression' not just for slaves and their descendants but also for other people of color who moved to Maryland after slavery was abolished and has 'afflicted the citizens of this state down to the present.'

The lack of debate underscored how dramatically the politics of the issue has changed in the past decade.

After a 1998 tour of Africa in which President Bill Clinton expressed regret about the slave trade, he was accused by some conservatives in the United States of pandering to African Americans.

Sen. Nathaniel Exum (D-Prince George's), the bill's sponsor in the Senate, said he was pleased that 'we can come to a recognition that we participated in something that was morally wrong.'

Exum said he hopes that the apology resolution is just the beginning of a discussion about race relations and the steps that need to be taken to address the 'lingering effects' slavery has had on African Americans."

There's plenty of reminders around these parts about the state's past. Columbia Association, for instance, has hired a firm to restore a small stone building once used as slave quarters on an eastern Howard County farm known as Woodlawn. There's talk of tying the $230,000 restoration into the creation of a interpretative walking trail.

No comments: