For Release: June 22, 2009
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
or [email protected]
Black Activists Call Senate Slavery Apology "Useless"; Say It Will Empower the Call for Reparations
Project 21 Members Say Lawmakers Should "Move On"
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate resolution apologizing for slavery and segregation will be used as a lobbying tool to acquire reparations payments, say members of the black leadership network Project 21. The group urges the Senate to "move on," saying the apology will do little to heal perceived racial gaps.
On June 18, senators unanimously passed a resolution apologizing for slavery and segregation in the United States. While the resolution was written with the intention that it could not be used to support claims for monetary reparations, reparations activists Randall Robinson told the Washington Post the legislation constitutes a "confession" that will aid the process of acquiring reparations. Harvard professor Charles Ogletree said the resolution should not be a substitute for reparations, saying "That battle will be prolonged."
Project 21 members voicing skepticism about the politics behind the resolution and the need for it:
Jerry Brooks (Auburn, WA): "I'll accept the Senate's apology, but let's move on already. This apology is something that might have been more appropriate long ago, and now it's likely going to be misused by those with a political axe to grind. In particular and despite its intention to the contrary, it is already being used to promote reparations. Not only is this an idea without merit, but an extremely foolish one to be clinging to while our nation is trying to recover from its current economic distress."
Brooks continued, "I also take offense to the ignorant partisan attacks involved in this debate. In trying to infer Republicans are responsible for slavery is downright silly considering that the party came about as part of the movement to abolish slavery."
Jimmie L. Hollis (Millville, NJ): "As an American of African ancestry, I think this apology is ridiculous and useless. It is just another 'feel good' action. If we are to start apologizing for every injustice and wrong done in the past, we will spend the next few decades just apologizing. Let's move on."
Bob Parks (Athol, MA): "Why the need to do this now? Are we attempting to keep the First Lady proud of her country?"
Parks added, "The problem is that, when you apologize, it's important that the recipient knows the reason for the apology and who is giving it. It wasn't the entire Senate whose former party slogan was 'the White Man's Party' or fostered the Ku Klux Klan or resisted black civil rights efforts until it was realized just how the black voting bloc could be used for political advantage. But why the entire Senate is apologizing for evil past doings, once supported by the Democrat Party, is a mystery to me."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.