June 18th, 2009
11:48 AM ET
9 years ago

Senate to take up resolution apologizing for slavery

Updated at 12:30 p.m. with Senate vote

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday was scheduled to consider a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for the wrongs of slavery.

The nonbinding resolution sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is similar to a House resolution adopted last year that acknowledged the wrongs of slavery but offered no reparations.

Several states have passed similar resolutions, but the House resolution was the first time a branch of the federal government did so.

Harkin's resolution "acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery, and Jim Crow laws," and "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 laws."

Jim Crow, or Jim Crow laws, were state and local laws enacted mostly in the Southern and border states of the United States between the 1870s and 1965, when African-Americans were denied the right to vote and other civil liberties, and were legally segregated from whites.

Some members of the African-American community have called on lawmakers to give cash payments or other financial benefits to descendants of slaves as compensation for the suffering caused by slavery.

UPDATE: The measure passed the Senate Thursday on a voice vote. While the House passed a similar resolution last year, the chamber will have to vote on it again this session. It is unclear if and when the House will take it up.

The measure will not go to the president because this is a non-binding resolution of the Congress.

Filed under: Senate • Tom Harkin
soundoff (267 Responses)
  1. LibertyQueen

    If any people deserve an apology and reparations, it's The First People...Native Americans. Talk about slaughter and genocied by so-called 'pioneers'.

    June 18, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. Alfred E. Neumann

    Words, yes.

    Money, no.

    June 18, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. Imarriedmy sister in TheOleSouth

    I will never say Im sorry,I love slavery,Rush Limbaugh and TCM.

    June 18, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. Ed in NJ

    Well we also need to reach out to the Native Americans, Native Hawaiians as well. They are first in line for the apologize's.

    June 18, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. LibertyQueen

    Blacks in California as a race voted overwhelmingly for Prop 8 which denies the Civil Rights of Lesbians and Gays. Remember, is wasn't that long ago that a black could not marry a white and yet blacks seem to think Separate Is Equal...unless you are black. Separate IS NOT Equal...get it?

    June 18, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Shawn Simon

    The African American community has received more than enough hand-outs already – which have had the reverse effect of hurting rather than helping them move forward as a community. Living in america gives one the opportunity to pursue the american dream – not entitle one to it.

    June 18, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. joey from san diego

    black people already get reperations. Its called a wel-fair check.

    June 18, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |

    My greatgrandfather has the freedom papers from his great-grandfather................ so thereare many who can trace their roots back to slavery. An apology is overdue..... but reperations would be appreciated more.

    June 18, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. Charles

    felicia June 18th, 2009 12:53 pm ET

    To all you leadbelly racist animals, you do owe an apology and compensation. Until i get my 40acres and my mule i'll never want to forgive you people.
    It's not racist just b/c you don't agree with the apology coming 150 years later. As for compensation, HA! $1000 one-way tickets to Sudan or Sierra Leone are cheaper if you're unhappy here.

    June 18, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. jrzshor

    can i get an apology for suffering thru this idiocy?

    June 18, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. Fedup

    Well said Holly!!! I never owned slaves, I never WAS a slave and neither are any of them alive today!!!

    June 18, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. franco

    Hey I got it; let's apologize to the world that 97 percent of blacks voted for Obama simply because of color!!

    June 18, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. Kalifornia

    We have apologized already. What else do you want? While slavery is wrong it goes back to the beginning of time and occurred on every nation on this planet. It was done by a stronger group of people enslaving a weaker group of people and mostly the spoils of war. These types of articles are disturbing. It is as if only blacks have been oppressed in this land. Let’s apologize and give money to all minority groups that have been systematically enslaved such as the Native Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, Italians, Irish etc. The only group that has been successful for an apology and reparations are the Japanese but they were American citizens that were sent to camps. Get over it, every group has been screwed here at one time or another and for some it still continues.

    June 18, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    I would think that the hundreds of thousands of Northern lives that were lost to end slavery would be apology enough. If decendents of slave owners (a very small percentage of the population) want to apologize to decendents of slaves, fine. But leave the rest of us out of it.

    June 18, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Dave

    This is step one of our tax dollars being redistributed even more. They will have us paying retribution for things we didn't do. Welcome to a fascist, socialist America people.

    We'll see how happy you are voting for this racist, ignorant, moron in about 10 years.

    June 18, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. Homer

    A bad idea all around. (as as stated, like there aren't more pressing matters facing this country ... ?)

    Reparations – no, sir. Are we countrymen or not? What's with the "I want my princess day mentality"?
    I'm of Irish decent; do i get cash from the feds and state of new york for segregation, discrimination, and cruetly to my grandparents, too? Slipperly slope folks – where will it end?
    Grow the heck up.

    June 18, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. donttreadonme

    This is politically motivated, sponsored by the dems to court the black vote. These little stunts, however appealing to the libs, do nothing to help race relations and actually set us back by creating resentment.

    The majority of African Americans realize that being treated “equal” means treating you the “same” as anyone else.

    June 18, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. jrzshor

    to FYI

    "Black people are not the only people to be enslaved…" who knew.

    so the jews (moses) who built the pyramids were well paid contractors? spartacus was a just a union leader protesting unsafe work (gladiator) conditions; nazi's had employment opportunities for millions!

    June 18, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. joey from san diego.....

    Hey Joey from san diego-
    Are you sure they were black, can you identify the person in a line up.
    Could have been your brother playing tricks on you.

    June 18, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. joey from san diego.....

    Cnn you people are suckers

    June 18, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  21. joe

    God bless the dead families of victims of 9/11/01... got cash.

    June 18, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. Robin

    You have got to be kidding!!! I also believe it was a terrible thing in our history, but the folks that are losing their homes and jobs today I sure all agree we need to focus our energy on things that can help us today!!!

    June 18, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. K. D.

    Wow! a lot of hate here. it's not about reparations we should not get any. it would demoralized the issue. If we as a nation can honor the horror of the holocaust which didn't happen here but, is important in history then, surely we can teach this history that happened in our own country. By the way ths House started this during the BUSH administration (comment to OBAMA haters). To the racist comments this apology is about learning from our pass, As the greatest country in the world it must start here. My race isn't necessary I'm American.

    June 18, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. ghost

    Japense got reparations, Jews got reparations. Black folk got nothing.

    This country prospered on the back of slaves. Cotton, one of our bigget exports back then helped to create our economic growth. Free labor helped to build this country. So yes, you are benefitting today for what slavery helped to build. Without slaves, this country would not be the powerhouse it is today.

    I guess you guys never heard of the sins of the father thing. Better yet, if your parents die, you inherit their wealth.....and their debts.

    June 18, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Out of ALL the races in the world, African-Americans are the only race whose been seperated from their true heritage.

    June 18, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
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