Congressional Apology: Commentary

US House of Representatives
[Authored by The Hon. US Congressman, Steve Cohen, Democrat- Kentucky]

Resolution Apologizing For Slavery and Segregation
As it relates to Comprehensive Immigration Reform


The full text of the slavery measure, House Resolution 194, is as follows:

1. Whereas millions of Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and the 13 American colonies from 1619 through 1865;

There is between 1619 and 1865 whereby these Americans were an institution in which they received deep, negative, psychological (mental, intellectual, emotional) impressions that became embedded in their souls (DNA walls) for generations yet to come.

Though chattel slavery ended in 1865, the freedmen and their descendant children never received that national therapy that would gradually rectify any deep seeded-rooted, generational illness resulting from the unprecedented ordeal.

Granted, the efforts to rectify the harm in those years obviously fell short, as modern sciences of the soul and genetics reveals that experiences can be etched onto genetic memories as well as collective attitudes.

By enactment of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, the Progenitor and "Rosetta Stone" (interpreter) of the 14th Amendment by which is codified into the US Constitution, either inherently, or by GOD’s inspiration of knowing future generations, the architects of the law thereby granted the descendant children of the freed chattel slaves power-authority to defend themselves and improve their lives should "some day" they awaken to realize that their existence in the United States is seriously threatened.

Willing Immigrants, legal or undocumented, do not have that particular American experience of the Subjects in this Resolution, nor can their experiences be equated with it in any manner whatsoever, as it would not only be illegal, but woefully immoral as well.

Such immorality would be highly disrespectful and mocking to the 720, 000 American boys who gave their lives and the millions more wounded (mentally and physically) specifically for that cause.

2. Whereas slavery in America resembled no other form of involuntary servitude known in history, as Africans were captured and sold at auction like inanimate objects or animals;

With due respect in recognition of their struggles, the heritage of willing immigrants is obviously not that of these Americans.

Comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) or any other program for immigrant heritage Americans is antithetical to this psychological and deep seeded generational damage.

3. Whereas Africans forced into slavery were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized, and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage;

4. Whereas enslaved families were torn apart after having been sold separately from one another;

Willing immigrants who have willingly subjected their children-families to the hardship of being separated, the Subjects of this legislation did not choose to have theirs torn apart in Africa, nor that which they pieced together.

These Americans peoples continue to suffer from that calamity.

5. Whereas the system of slavery and the visceral racism against persons of African descent upon which it depended became entrenched in the Nation's social fabric;

Willing illegal immigrants became a part of the American fabric, whereas the unwilling chattel slaves have been intricately woven into the fabric since 1619, when the first ships with the cargo of African slaves arrived in Jamestown.

6. Whereas slavery was not officially abolished until the passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865 after the end of the Civil War, which was fought over the slavery issue;

The greatest war in US history was not fought of the struggles of willing illegal immigrants, but rather chattel slave and the descendant children.  To assume and usurp others, regardless of their suffering into the place of these Americans of this Resolution would be a desecration to those young boys who gave their lives that this may live.

7. Whereas after emancipation from 246 years of slavery, African-Americans soon saw the fleeting political, social, and economic gains they made during Reconstruction eviscerated by virulent racism, lynchings, disenfranchisement, Black Codes, and racial segregation laws that imposed a rigid system of officially sanctioned racial segregation in virtually all areas of life;

Willing immigrants of any kind, have never had this experience.  In fact, these atrocities were committed by “White citizens” of immigration heritage.  CIR now poses a potential threat of a worse magnitude.

Ironically, certain Americans of immigrant heritage are now seeking to replace the Subjects of this legislation with foreign nationals, even rejecting the governments long standing, but unfilled covenant of the Declaration of Independence with GOD to rectify these generational atrocities committed against HIM.

8. Whereas the system of de jure racial segregation known as `Jim Crow,' which arose in certain parts of the Nation following the Civil War to create separate and unequal societies for whites and African-Americans, was a direct result of the racism against persons of African descent engendered by slavery; 

Immigrants willing to subject themselves and their children’s children to the punishments of our nation’s laws for violating them are not to be equated with, nor should time and resources be taken from those who have suffered these injustices for them.

It is to be noted, that during the Jim Crow era, it was only the Americans of chattel slavery heritage who experienced racial discrimination. Even Africans immigrants or even visiting as students were exempted from racial prejudice, not being of the chattel slavery descendancy.

Such action is total mockery and disdain of the Rev.-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all Americans regardless of race or color who have fought and even given their lives to rectify these crimes against humanity.

9.  Whereas the system of Jim Crow laws officially existed into the 1960's–a century after the official end of slavery in America–until Congress took action to end it, but the vestiges of Jim Crow continue to this day;

10.  Whereas African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow–long after both systems were formally abolished—through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity;

11.  Whereas the story of the enslavement and de jure segregation of African-Americans and the dehumanizing atrocities committed against them should not be purged from or minimized in the telling of American history;

12.  Whereas on July 8, 2003, during a trip to Goree Island, Senegal, a former slave port, President George W. Bush acknowledged slavery's continuing legacy in American life and the need to confront that legacy when he stated that slavery `was . . .one of the greatest crimes of history …The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation.

And many of the issues that still trouble America have roots in the bitter experience of other times.  But however long the journey, our destiny is set: liberty and justice for all.';

Republican President acknowledges that these US citizens continue to suffer from the past deeds committed by immigrant heritage Americans, that the nation destiny is set in that of theirs.

Note:  “…for many of our white brothers…have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.” MLK 1963

13.  Whereas President Bill Clinton also acknowledged the deep-seated problems caused by the continuing legacy of racism against African-Americans that began with slavery when he initiated a national dialogue about race;

14.  Whereas a genuine apology is an important and necessary first step in the process of racial reconciliation;

15.  Whereas an apology for centuries of brutal dehumanization and injustices cannot erase the past, but confession of the wrongs committed can speed racial healing and reconciliation and help Americans confront the ghosts of their past;

Among those “ghosts” are those of the young boys who gave their lives in the US Civil War for the sake of a “nation of immigrants” that believed in the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence, as fought over freeing human beings from tyranny.

16. Whereas the legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia has recently taken the lead in adopting a resolution officially expressing appropriate remorse for slavery and other State legislatures are considering similar resolutions; and

Apparently, these Several States recognize that the business with chattel slavery and its aftermath is not concluded, therefore, why start anew with a foreign problem not cause by the subjects of this Resolution.

17. Whereas it is important for this country, which legally recognized slavery through its Constitution and its laws, to make a formal apology for slavery and for its successor, Jim Crow, so that it can move forward and seek reconciliation, justice, and harmony for all of its citizens: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow;

Why acknowledge, if the nation is not going to rectify it, and but rather instead heap even more pain and humiliation upon the Subjects of this Resolution.

(2) 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; and

Why apologize if it is not going to be fixed?

(3) expresses its commitment to rectify the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed
 against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow and to stop the occurrence of human rights violations in the future

consecutive blows” – 40 years of slavery (1620 – 1640); 225 years of chattel slavery (1640 – 1865); 99 years of combined Black Codes – Jim Crowism (1865-1964); 48 years of failed, government social policies and programs intended to rectify the other two “blows”;

NOTE: Senate 2009 Apology Resolution: Disclaimer For Reparations

The Senate was sure to rush a disclaimer that while it Apologizes, such must not be construed as a willingness to make Reparations yet, it is quick to grant amnesties to law breakers and their children

(2) DISCLAIMER- Nothing in this resolution— (A) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States;  or (B) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.

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