July 30, 2008

Apologies for Slavery & Jim Crow

Recently our United States House of Representatives formally apologized for the violent enslavement and imposing of discriminating (“Jim Crow”) laws on African-Americans in this country. Now, I can understand the emotions of users like “darnelic” who asked: “What does that mean for me today”. It might seem like the apology doesn’t matter in this day & age, but in reality it means a whole lot more for us tomorrow than it does today.

Because our government has now undertaken the official position that something it enforced in the past was immoral and wrong, we can better understand how we got to where we are today, in order to better shape the future. People make claims that slavery ended hundreds of years ago and therefore today’s apologies don’t matter, but really the systematic enslavement and social oppression of Blacks didn’t start to die down until the mid-1960s. Which, at that point, made it over 450 (I say again, over 450!!!) years since the beginnings of the Atlantic Slave Trade. To compare, it was just a mere 40 years ago that Black people were finally recognized with the full freedoms that an American citizenship provides. Ya dig?

Whether it was being granted the right to vote or if it was something as simple as dining at a restaurant counter, the 1960s gave African-Americans our first glimpse of what Dr. King saw when he was “at the mountain top”. The end of Jim Crow marked the rise of the “American Phoenix”. The time in our country where those who had been subject to centuries of unjust discrimination and systematic oppression by our own Government, were able to better comprehend the grief their ancestors had fought through in order to lead this country to a new social destiny.

And to think, tomorrow’s future was all set off with one formal apology. (As well as a Black President.)

Maybe reparations are next… (*fingers crossed*)

- Steve Tyson Jr.

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