6.14.2005

US Senate Apology

The US Senate has apologized for its failure to act in regards to lynchings of African-Americans.

Chief Sponsor Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has an excellent website dedicated to the resolution (S. Res. 39).

Apologizing to the victims of lynching and the descendants of those victims for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation.

Whereas the crime of lynching succeeded slavery as the ultimate expression of racism in the United States following Reconstruction;

Whereas lynching was a widely acknowledged practice in the United States until the middle of the 20th century;

Whereas lynching was a crime that occured throughout the United States with documented incidents in all but 4 states;

Whereas at least 4,742 people, predominantly African-Americans, were reported lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968.

Whereas 99 percent of all perpetrators of lynching escaped from punishment by State or local officials;

[...]

Whereas protection against lynching was the minimum and most basic of Federal responsibilities, and the Senate considered but failed to enact anti-lynching legislation despite repeated requests by civil rights groups, Presidents, and the House of Representatives to do so

[...]

Resolved, that the Senate

(1) apologizes to the victims of lynching for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation;

(2) expresses the deepest sympathies and most solemn regrets of the Senate to the descendants of victims of lynching, the ancestors of whom were deprived of life, human dignity and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States; and

(3) remembers the history of lynching, to ensure that these tragedies will be neither forgotten nor repeated.

Read the text of Barack Obama's Knox College commencement address that I posted a few days ago. He talks about this very type of thing.

That we can recognize the mistakes of the past, learn from them and do our best to rectify them is one of the greatest things about this country. That's also why the regression of the past four and a half years is particularly infuriating.

Reed (D-RI), Conrad (D-ND) and Bingaman (D-NM) did not co-sponsor the resolution. I hope they have good reasons, and I know that Jack Reed must.

The following Republicans have not supported the resolution:
Lamar Alexander, Tennessee
Bill Bennett, Utah
Thad Cochran, Mississippi
John Cornyn, Texas
Mike CRAPo, Idaho
Mike Enzi, Wyoming
Charles Grassley, Iowa
Judd Gregg, New Hampshire
Orrin Hatch, Utah
Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas
Jon Kyl, Arizona
Trent Lott, Mississippi
Lisa Murkowski, Alaska
Richard Shelby, Alabama
Gordon Smith, Oregon
John Sununu, New Hampshire
Craig Thomas, Wyoming
Join Voinovich, Ohio

It's interesting that both Senators from Mississippi are not lending their support. Mississippi has the highest number of lynchings with 581. Neither Texas Senator supports the resolution. Texas ranks third with 493.

Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are the four states without a documented case. Alaska and Hawaii as well, but I don't think those latecomers count in the stats. Maine and Vermont each have one lynching, white victim.

Statistics here.

2 Comments:

Anonymous commentator said...

The vote was unanimous; it's been passed. The Senate has apologized for the actions and filibusters of southern Democrats. It's time to move on.

5:32 AM  
Blogger Dan Kachur said...

The vote WAS unanimous, but it was a voice vote, in which one Senator can pass a resolution. I didn't see it myself, but I have heard there were about six Senators in the chamber when the vote took place. So, sure, these 6 supported the resolution, so it passed unanimously.

The fact that fifteen Senators have not supported the bill raises serious questions. Why not? Why did Bill Frist block an up or down vote on this resolution. The only answer is that some Senators did not want to be on the record on this issue, and I think it's a fair bet it was some of those fifteen that did not want a roll call vote.

Why not?

But I see where you're coming from. This makes the GOP look bad, so let's just move on.

9:55 PM  

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