Slavery apology is discriminatory
Thursday, April 5, 2007
By Clint E. Lacy
On Feb. 28, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported that lawmakers met in to debate
whether Missouri should officially apologize for slavery.
According to the Tribune, "[State Rep. Yaphett] El-Amin’s resolution,
co-sponsored by House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, got a hearing yesterday
before the House Special Committee on Urban Issues, which met at Lincoln University."
The resolution says "the perpetual pain, distrust, and bitterness of many
African Americans could be assuaged and the principles espoused by the Founding
Fathers would be affirmed, and great strides toward unifying all Missourians
and inspiring the nation to acquiesce might be accomplished if the state of
Missouri acknowledged and atoned for its role in the slavery of Africans."
The Tribune also reported that, "because Missouri was one of the last
states to do away with slavery, El-Amin said, it would be appropriate for the
state to be the first to apologize for it. ‘I am asking the state of Missouri,
the state that sanctioned slavery and the dehumanization of its African property
— which, I can’t say citizens, because they weren’t afforded the rights of
citizens at that point — to be the Show Me State that it claims to be,’ El-Amin
Perhaps El-Amin hasn’t taken the time to ponder just why Missouri was the last
state to end slavery.
Missouri was the first state in the Confederacy to fall to Yankee occupation.
In fact, the legislature was forced to abandon Jefferson City because the federal
government intended to hold it in the Union by force. The legislature seceded
in Neosho, Mo., on Oct. 31, 1861.
Even though Missouri fell early, there were still many slaveowners loyal to
the Union. President Lincoln desperately needed to hold Missouri, and to do
that he needed the support of these slaveholders.
The Emancipation Proclamation excluded them from having to give up their slaves.
Some of Missouri’s most prominent racists were Union legislator Sylvester Baker,
William Tecumseh Sherman and Gen. U.S. Grant.
Blacks are not the only ones who suffered during this time period. The Indians
of the West paid a horrible price for trusting our government.
Among the worst instances was the Sand Creek (Colorado) Massacre in which Indian
men, women and children were openly slaughtered.
This is well-documented in the book, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,"
which states that an officer named Wynkoop begged the governor of Colorado to
talk to the Cheyenne, at which time Governor Evans replied, "What shall
I do with the Third Colorado Regiment if I make peace?" … "There
was political pressure on Governor Evans from Coloradoans who wanted to avoid
the military draft of 1864 by serving in uniform against a few poorly armed
Indians, rather than against the Confederates farther east."
A year earlier Confederates "farther east" were paid a visit by the
Union army on Aug. 25, 1863. Union General Ewing issued order No. 11 in retaliation
for armed Confederates who fought back.
The order required residents to evacuate from four Missouri counties.
George Caleb Bingham described the event, stating, "It is well-known that
men were shot down in the very act of obeying the order, and their wagons and
effects seized by their murderers."
If apologies are to be issued for everyone that has been aggrieved by the federal
government, it would be a very long list.
Both El-Amin and Jetton represent districts that are poverty stricken with
high unemployment. I don’t think an apology is going to fix that.
© 2007 Southeast Missourian
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