On Monday, the State of Connecticut will begin debating an apology for its role in slavery and and racial discrimination.

The apology takes the form of a joint resolution of the Connecticut General Assembly. The proposed resolution, House Joint Resolution No. 1 (H.J.-1), is sponsored by Rep. Kenneth P. Green (D-Hartford) and co-sponsored by Sen. Edith G. Prague (D-Columbia).

The resolution has been referred to the Committee on Government Administration and Elections, which has scheduled a public hearing for Monday, March 23, at 9:30am in Room 2B of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. The complete agenda for the hearing can be found in today’s edition of the legislature’s Bulletin.

The resolution would have the General Assembly “apologize and express the profound regret” for slavery and racial discrimination, and would call upon “all citizens to take part in acts of racial reconciliation.” This would therefore be one of the more direct apologies issued by a state in recent years. The resolution does not review the history of slavery and discrimination, but neither does it announce, as other such apologies have, that the apology could not be used in support of claims for reparations for slavery.

3 Responses to “Connecticut weighs apology for slavery”

  1. Na'ilah says:

    Job well done in attempting to apologize for such horrendous acts as slavery, but I think it may be a little too late. I think it would be one thing to acknowledge the fact that slavery did exist and to act accordingly by defeating racism that was left as a result; however, I wonder how the General

    Assembly, whom I'm sure was not alive to enslave Africans so many years ago, could possibly apologize for something that they never did? I believe it is important for "all citizens to take part in acts of racial reconciliation", but its time to look towards better solutions than just "apologizing".

  2. James says:

    Na'ilah, I have the same instinct on this issue as you do: to focus on acknowledging the past and addressing today what I call the "living consequences" in the title of this blog and in the documentary Traces of the Trade.

    However, the state of Connecticut and its General Assembly most certainly did participate in slavery.

    Perhaps you mean that it makes no sense for these institutions to apologize at this time, because the individuals within them today were not personally involved in slavery. This is true, and any apology should not imply that these individuals bear responsibility for what happened. However, we speak all the time about what our institutions today, like our governments or legislatures, did in the past, as if they have a continuous existence. I think it is entirely consistent to have them acknowledge participation in, and responsibility for, historic misdeeds.

    The broader issue, I think, is whether an apology can be an appropriate response at this point. While I agree with you that acknowledgment and forward-looking actions are more important, apologies can also have meaning for many people.

    One of the enduring legacies of slavery and racial discrimination in this country is the psychological impact on those whose families have been impacted. In the case of black citizens, this may take the form of believing that the nation has never truly repented of its actions or fully embraced its black population.

    For many black Americans, therefore, an apology carries meaning as an acknowledgment, not merely of a history which others participated in, but also of the benefits which we have inherited from this history, and the responsibility of our society, government, and other institutions for their role in the past and for addressing the consequences today.

  3. Connecticut House votes to apologize for slavery | The Living Consequences says:

    […] joint resolution of the Connecticut General Assembly was the subject of a committee hearing in March, and had been awaiting action by the full House. The resolution must now be taken up by […]

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