Apology too little, too late

Why wasnt it done over 140 years ago, when it actually mattered!

“Why wasn’t it done over 140 years ago, when it actually mattered’!

It’s too little, and way too late.

Missouri is considering House Concurrent Resolution 26, sponsored by Rep. Talibdin El-Amin (D-St. Louis). The resolution is an official apology for Missouri’s role in the “involuntary servitude” of African Americans. That apology is a few years overdue from history’s library. Virginia was the first state to issue an official apology for its role in slavery, which stands to reason. In 1860, Virginia had 490,856 slaves statewide. If the resolution passes the General Assembly, Missouri would become the second state to make such a gesture. Michigan has been trying for years, unsuccessfully, to pass a similar measure. Nice gesture. Way too late and irrelevant for all practical purposes, maybe, but a nice gesture.

In 1988, Congress issued an official apology for Japanese internment during World War II, giving each survivor $20,000.

Still too little. Still too late. But it’s better than nothing.

Now it’s very nice that Missouri is ever so concerned about making amends, but what about the ties we still have to the past? Granted, there are no longer any surviving American slaves, but there are businesses today that benefited from slavery so many years ago. What about reparations for the descendants of Clara Brown, who died in 1885, or any number of the other slaves who are buried without name markers in “Negro cemeteries?” And, if we are going to apologize for our role in slavery, where is our apology for the Trail of Tears? We cannot unring the bell of slavery in Missouri, but at least we could try and reverse some of the damage we did.

El-Amin calls this “an opportunity to move forward.” Well, if that’s the case, we’ve got a lot of moving to do. We are “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” We ended slavery, gave women the right to vote and profess equal rights for all. Yet our country is still run by predominately white, middle-aged Christian men (with a Texas twang). Virginia and Missouri have the right idea, but it’s just not there yet.

As our mothers always said, “I don’t want to hear you’re sorry, I want you to do better.”