15 Jun 2005 Project 21 Press Release: Black Activist Decries Civil Rights Apologists; Senate Apology for Lynching Perpetuates “Posture of the Victim”
On June 13, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution by a voice vote apologizing to the victims, survivors and descendent of racist lynchings that occurred between 1882 and 1968.
The first anti-lynching legislation was introduced 105 years ago. Such legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on three occasions, and was championed by presidents and buoyed by overwhelming public opinion. No anti-lynching bill, however, could pass in the Senate due to filibusters led by Southern senators.
A group called the Committee for a Formal Apology lobbied the Senate for the resolution, and is also pushing for a formal apology for slavery and stripping the name of former senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. (D-GA) from the Senate office building that bears his name due to his participation in the filibuster of anti-lynching legislation.
Project 21 member Lisa Fritsch calls the passage of the resolution “a day late, a dollar short and not worth a dime.”
Fritsch’s statement on the resolution and the movement for government apologies follows:
“I am all for the gracious acceptance of an apology that is due, or for apologizing when I am wrong. But just like giving credit where it is due, an apology only carries weight when it has meaning. And, in the case of the recent apology by Senator Mary Landrieu [D-LA] and her regretful cohorts on Capitol Hill, this apology doesn’t amount to a hill of beans – at least not today.
“The lynchings of the past, while a sad place in history to recount, is exactly that – history. The best way to avenge this shameful history and make it relevant to us today is not to wallow in the apologies and regrets offered by senators who couldn’t be in any way responsible for what occurred, but to supply our own closure by forgiving those who trespassed against us and moving on.
“History will offer all of us – every race, every nationality, group or peoples – some regrettable offense and transgression. From these traumas, we must heal if we are to move on. The best healing of these wounds lies in the power of our own spirit through our ability to forgive that which we cannot change. In this forgiveness, we can vow to change our future fate by not being the victim reborn of our past. With our opportunities today, we have the chance to avenge the past by making productive and fertile choices for an advanced and progressive future. In forgiving, we possess the power of a crusader. In seeking out apology from any place, however, we keep the posture of the victim. Instead, we can appreciate this truth: that while we may be born of victims, we are today victims no more.”
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html. New Visions Commentaries can be found at https://nationalcenter.org/P21NewVisions.html.