On Juneteeth 2018, a city where 40% of all U.S. slaves entered the country has apologized for its role in the slave trade.
The apology came from the city of South Carolina where ships dropped off thousands of shackled Africans. According to the International African-American Museum, some 80% of African-Americans can trace their roots back to Charleston.
The City’s Council members gathered a mile from the City Hall, which was built by slaves, to finally apologize for Charleston’s role in the slave trade. Gadsden’s Wharf, where slave ships docked and unloaded at least 100,000 slaves, is a mile from City Hall.
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CNN reports that the apology has been in the works for a long time. The resolution for the apology was approved on Juneteenth because of the symbolic importance of the day.
“The vestiges of slavery still plague us today,” Councilman William Dudley Gregorie who brought the resolutions to the council told CNN affiliate WCBD. It is widely acknowledged that slave labor was “fundamental to the economy of colonial and antebellum Charleston.”
“The institution of slavery did not just involve physical confinement and mistreatment. It also sought to suppress, if not destroy, the cultural, religious and social values of Africans by stripping Africans of their ancestral names and customs, humiliating and brutalizing them through sexual exploitation, and selling African relatives apart from one another without regard to the connection of family, a human condition universal among all peoples of the world,” the resolution reads.
Clearly, not everyone is happy with Charleston’s resolve. Some comments after Associated Press published the news on Twitter suggested outrage.
Why are you apologizing for past history, that made our nation what it is, until Trump. Slavery is part of history, and should stay in the past, but to apologize for something 150+years ago, let’s get real.
— Carol Haring (@65Beth) June 20, 2018
Wtf ever!! Last I checked black people aren’t slaves anymore. They have the same rights as every other American. No citizen of America is oppressed these days. Racism exists in EVERY race. There was absolutely no point to this “ apology “ except for political correctness
— brock birchfield (@tigereye225) June 20, 2018
But others rebutted.
You are still benefitting from slavery to this day. So yeah, maybe you should grovel. Barring that, it’s just a written proclamation of apology. Don’t get your panties in a twist.
— ?DebbieH? (@IAmAndroktones) June 20, 2018
People will scoff at this action, perhaps there are legitimate conversations to be had about timing, but this is an important action that I feel has been missing from our national conversation. Slavery might have occurred a long time ago, but it’s a scar of the deepest kind.
— Didyoureallysaythat (@WMCED) June 20, 2018
Charleston has become an especially important site in the ongoing conversation on race in the United States. In 2015, a confessed white supremacist went on a shooting spree inside the city’s Emanuel AME Church, killing nine black parishioners.
The resolution’s call on the city to promote equality in city businesses, to memorialize African-Americans’ graves and to create an office of racial reconciliation, will hopefully spring up conversation around such events and other lingering issues.
Charleston NAACP President, Dot Scott, says the apology is worth backing.”Regardless of where it came from,” telling CNN, “it sends a message.”