Local 680 WPTF talk radio host Bill LeMay (Raleigh's very own version of Rush Limbaugh) had an interesting program yesterday afternoon that sparked quite a controversy. The issue discussed was the State of North Carolina apologizing for allowing slavery to exist inside its borders during its colonial and early years as a state in the Union. LeMay argued that there was no need for an apology because there is no one to formally apologize for this sad period of North Carolina history.
Two states, Virginia and Maryland, have passed resolutions through their state legislatures issuing formal apologies for the role their governments played by allowing slavery under their constitutions. As a southern leader of progress, it is time for the North Carolina General Assembly to do the same.
Though like LeMay, some will argue that apologizing does nothing because white Americans living today are not responsible for the injustices done to the slaves of the past. However, one can argue that formally apologizing for slavery is justified because even with the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, our states did a horrible job accepting freed slaves as American citizens.
North Carolina, like many states, accepted Jim Crow racism for over 100 years after the abolition of slavery. Jim Crow legislation and the subsequent poll taxes, lynchings, and employment and educational discrimination that resulted left freed slaves and future generations of African Americans at a disadvantage that many have yet to overcome. This sad fact results from the response of our state after the Civil War.
Our government has worked to erase the chapter of slavery by enacting equal opportunity legislation to allow more opportunities for African Americans. These programs are working, but until states acknowledge the role they played in creating the conditions that African Americans are struggling to overcome, our state and country can not and will not move beyond this terrible event.
I urge the readers of BlueNC to contact their legislator and ask them to pass a resolution of apology for our states role in the institution of slavery. As a progressive southern state, an apology from the Tar Heel state is a long time coming.