Charleston Apologizes for City’s Role in Slave Trade
By Melissa Gomez, New York Times
June 19, 2018
Charleston, the South Carolina port city where about 40 percent of enslaved Africans who were brought to North America landed after being taken from their homelands, has become the latest city to apologize for its role in the slave trade.
In an emotional and at times heated meeting that drew a standing-room-only crowd, the Charleston City Council on Tuesday night approved a two-page resolution in City Hall — a structure built by slaves — that its supporters saw as a step toward racial healing.
The resolution, which was approved by voice vote and was met with loud cheers, recognized that the city had flourished at the cost of those enslaved and apologized on behalf of the city for its role in the trade. It also acknowledged wrongs committed against African-Americans by slavery and Jim Crow laws.
The resolution pledges city officials will work with businesses and organizations to strive for racial equality, and suggests the creation of an office of racial conciliation to help the process of racial healing.
But some people who spoke during a public comment period and council members who debated the resolution for nearly two hours questioned whether it went far enough to tackle systemic issues, like affordable housing, economic development and criminal justice matters facing the city’s African-Americans.
Mayor John Tecklenburg, who supported the measure, spoke of how “enamored and intertwined” the city had been with slavery. “Do we have a reason to be sorry, to apologize?’’ he said, his voice unsteady. “We do.”
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