From CNN, a story on yesterday’s passage of a nonbinding resolution in the U.S. Senate which “acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery, and Jim Crow laws” as it “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.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared “In the nearly 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, America has taken serious and sincere steps to heal the deep wounds of one of history’s greatest crimes against humanity. This resolution is another one of those steps.”
Slavery has been illegal in the United States for almost 150 years. Many forms of legal segregation and discrimination have been illegal for over thirty years.
Sometimes the most powerful lessons from these kinds of resolutions is not in the content of the acknoweldgement but in the timing and context compelling its passage. That is, I think we have a lot more to gain by thinking about why it took over a century for the Senate to do this and why they did it now.