Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Senate Apologizes for America's "Strange Fruit"

The summer between my junior and senoir year in college, I was getting ready to leave for a concert near Detroit. I was going with two friends of mine from high school, two white women. My dad expressed some concern with me going with two white women. I blew it off. These were my friends. It's not like there was anything going on romantically or sexually (which was damn near impossible since I'm gay).

But my Dad grew up in Jim Crow-era Louisiana. He was a little kid during the time when lynchings of mostly black men were common. I've never asked my dad if he ever heard of lynchings, but I have to think he did. And it must have played in his apprehension of me being a pal to white women.

Yesterday, the Senate apologized for not doing anything to stop racially- motivated lynchings. As the Washington Post editorial says, many anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress and many Presidents urged for a bill. Anti-lynching bills passed the House three times, but died in the Senate because of southern Senators who were opposed to such bills, using federalism as their fig leaf.

So it was only fitting that two southern Senators, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and George Allen of Virginia, would sponsor a resolution to apologize for a past generation's lack of courage. An apology won't bring back the dead, but it will go a long ways towards healing our nation's racial divisions. Congress hasn't done a lot of the people's business as of late, but I'm glad they took time to do this.


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