“We’re Sorry” Maybe

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on July 29, 2008

There has been a long time cry for America to apologize for slavery and for racial segregation in American history.  Several bills have been introduced and another one is one the scene and will be heard today.  

The resolutions are generally offered by members of the Congressional Black Caucus who represent congressional districts that are majority African American. While the district of the representative carrying HR 194 is a majority African American district the Representative is not. 

Congressman Steve Cohen will make the pitch this week in a bill that according to the Politico “…makes no mention of reparations, but it does state that black Americans “continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow — long after both systems were formally abolished ….” 

The resolution also acknowledges that an apology “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.”   

The bill will require two-thirds for passage under the archaic rules of the House and currently has 120 co-sponsors.  The Resolution is non-binding.

This sense of the House will engender a great deal of discussion on the House floor but the back story is Cohen and his consistent and persistent courting of the African American vote.  Cohen stunned the political establishment with his win in 2006 in a seat that had been held by African Americans for over three decades.  The district, that is made up of the city of Memphis, came open after then Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. declined to run for reelection and opted for a shot at a Senate seat.  Cohen won the primary by only 4,000 votes in a field that featured six African American candidates who sliced and diced each other and the vote. 

After his primary victory and beating the GOP candidate and independent candidate Jake Ford, Harold’s younger brother, Cohen thought about asking to be part of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).  He later decided against pursuing a spot in the CBC after he told he wouldn’t be allowed in.  That didn’t stop his outreach efforts to African Americans especially in the legislation that he has introduced. 

Despite those outreaches Cohen faces more African American opposition this primary season.  On August 7th the incumbent faces five African Americans including Nikki Tinker, who ran second to Cohen in ’06, and state Representative Joe Towns.  In 2006 Cohen was outspent 2-1, but this time around he has nearly tripled Tinker fundraising despite her support from Emily’s List. 

If Cohen is successful next week he’ll face Jake Ford again who is mounting another independent challenge.

UPDATE — House Poised to Pass Apologize for Slavery, Jim Crow


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