In light of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown this year, my home state has issued a formal apology for slavery. The Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution of “profound regret” for “the involuntary servitude of Africans and the exploitation of Native Americans.” From today’s Guardian article:
The collective expression of remorse is believed to be the first of its kind to recognise that the foundations of America were built on exploitation. Its symbolism was underlined by its delivery from Richmond, the former capital of the confederacy and home at the outset of the civil war in 1861 to half a million of the four million African-Americans living in slavery.
The word “sorry” was left out of the resolution to ward off any requests for reparations. More in this USA Today article .
I guess better late than never is the only thing to be said here, but I’m also wondering if this will have any impact on the struggle of Virginia Indians to achieve federal recognition. The eight surviving Virginia tribes, about 17,000 individuals, weren’t formally recognized by the state until the 1980s, and they are still being denied federal education, housing, and economic development benefits.
Rep. Jim Moran vowed to re-introduce the issue in the House of Representatives this session, but as far as I can tell he hasn’t gotten around to it yet. He did, however, speak on the matter at this Senate hearing last June. His statement is a pretty good summary of the issue and all the ugly racist history attached to it, but there’s lots more in the Indian Country archives.