On July 29 the House of Representatives issued a formal apology to African Americans for the atrocities committed against them and their ancestors during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and Jim Crow segregation laws.
Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen created the vote as one of his first actions as a new congressman in 2007.
The resolution was introduced after Cohen found out the Senate would not be able to do a joint resolution.
Cohen also made history as the first white lawmaker to represent a majority black district (Memphis) in over 30 years, and is also Tennessees first Jewish Congressman.
Slavery and Jim Crow are stains upon what is the greatest nation on the face of the earth, Cohen explained to the Associated Press. Part of forming a more perfect union is such a resolution as we have before us today where we face up to our mistakes and apologize as anyone should apologize for things that were done in the past that were wrong.
The resolution, while not speaking about reparations, acknowledges the responsibility of government in correcting the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African Americans under slavery and Jim Crow.
For Russell Simmons, who actively campaigned for reparations for African-Americans, the resolution is a step in the right direction.
Its just another statement that America is changing, Simmons told AllHipHop.com. It has changed enough to accept the fact that it is impossible to fully heal without acknowledging the past.
The resolution also explains that Africans under the slave trade were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage.
The resolution ends with a formal apology, stating the House apologizes to African Americans on behalf of the people of United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow.
Outspoken Atlanta rapper Killer Mike proposed his own interesting alternative to monetary reparations for slavery.
When they start talking about reparations, let’s not make it about the money, outspoken rapper Killer Mike told AllHipHop.com. Let’s make it education based. I think every Black person in America should be able to go to college for free. I think they should have eight years to go after their Bachelor’s, Master’s, whatever they can get in those 8 years. And the reason why I say 8 is that some of those people are gonna be single parents [for example], and so I think they should have twice the amount of time the average kid in college takes. And for those people that’s too old or already got a degree, they should get a tax break for a certain amount of years.
Cohen felt that with only five states formally apologizing for the atrocities enacted on African peoples, it was long overdue for Congress to acknowledge its role in creating laws that oppressed its own citizens.
Rapper Immortal Techinque agreed with Cohen that the apology was a long time coming.
I believe that this apology is way over due and it was just done strategically at a time when Congress is at an incredibly low approval rating, Immortal Technique told AllHipHop.com. I think its a step in the right direction, but since slavery without a doubt built up the capital for capitalism, there needs to be a discussion in Congress about some sort of reparations. That and the social, religious and educational mechanisms that facilitated the justification for slavery and the modern form of racism, that was born from it.”
Cohen is scheduled to defend his seat in an August 7 primary.