The Power of Sorry

It’s been nearly a year since the General Assembly’s 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission released their 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Report.

Tonight, NPR’s Laura Leslie, over on Isaac Hunter’s Tavern reports:

State lawmakers made history today by unanimously (both chambers!) passing a resolution apologizing for their predecessors’ role in promulgating slavery in North Carolina.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle spent two and a half hours speaking in support of the apology…about their personal experiences with discrimination, about the bigger social issues at play in this apology, and about the hostile feedback they’ve received from some constituents who see the apology as a waste of time or worse.

House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman delivered a simple but jaw-dropping history lesson — three minutes on what the state should apologize for. You can hear it here.  It’s well worth the download time. 

One of the follow ups was from our eloquent North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber:

…repentance doesn’t mean much unless you’re willing to back it up. 

You can read the NAACP’s full reaction here.

One of the State’s more powerful media outlets, the News and Observer, began to experience the “power of sorry” more than a year ago when they started to unravel former editor Josephus Daniels complicity (“1898 riot designed to disfranchise blacks”) in Wilmington’s terrible tragedy.

The paper’s Nov. 17th, 2006 coverage,The Ghosts of 1898 ,helmed by Oxford native Tim Tyson ( “Blood Done Sign My Name”) extended the amends.

In a week with several reminders of how far we’ve yet to go, the legislature’s unanimous “mea culpa” for their predecessors’ actions (or inactions) is more than welcomed.


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