US Senate votes formal apology for slavery
by Olivier Knox
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Senate approved a fiercely worded resolution Thursday formally apologizing for the "fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery" of African-Americans.
The unanimous voice vote came five months after Barack Obama became the first black US president, and ahead of the June 19 "Juneteenth" celebration of the emancipation of African-Americans at the end of the US Civil War in 1865.
House of Representatives approval, which could come as early as next week, would make it the first time the entire US Congress has formally apologized on behalf of the American people for one of the grimmest wrongs in US history.
The bill, which does not require Obama's signature, states that the US Congress "acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws" that enshrined racial segregation at the state and local level in the United States well into the 1960s.
And the Congress "apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws."
It also recommits lawmakers "to the principle that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and calls on all people of the United States to work toward eliminating racial prejudices, injustices, and discrimination from our society."
Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas led the debate as both major US parties banished their deep differences on subjects like the economy to come together on the measure.
"We pledge to move beyond this shameful period and we officially acknowledge and apologize for the institution of slavery in this country what many refer to as 'the original sin of America,'" said Brownback.
"Let us make no mistake: This resolution will not fix lingering injustices. while we are proud of this resolution and believe it is long overdue, the real work lies ahead," said Harkin.
In a step that has angered some African-American lawmakers, the measure takes pains not to fuel the push for the US government to pay reparations to the descendants of African slaves.
"Nothing in this resolution (a) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or (b) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States," it says.
That has drawn "serious concerns" within the Congressional Black Caucus, though the group has yet to decide on a formal position towards the legislation, a source close to the group said Thursday.
It was unclear whether opposition from those lawmakers could force a change to the language or otherwise hinder the measure.
And Harkin said a "fitting ceremony" to mark final passage would occur in early July. Supporters hope Obama will attend the event.
Former president Bill Clinton expressed regret for slavery during a March 1998 trip to Africa, while his successor, George W. Bush, called slavery "one of the greatest crimes of history" during a July 2003 visit to Goree Island, Senegal, a former slave-trade port.
Some US states have officially adopted resolutions expressing regret or remorse for slavery.
The debate came as the United States marked the 80th anniversary of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday, and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, who formally declared blacks in secessionist states free during the civil war in 1863.
And 2009 is also the hundredth year since the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) civil rights group.
The US Congress has apologized for other wrongs over the years: In 1988, it apologized for the World War II-era internment of people of Japanese descent, and 20 years later for the treatment of Native American peoples as the United States grew.
June 18, 2009, 4:33 pm
Senate Approves Slavery Apology, With Reparations Disclaimer
By Bernie Becker
The Senate apologized for slavery on Thursday, almost 150 years after the start of the Civil War.
The resolution, passed by voice vote, said it was important for Americans to apologize for slavery "so they can move forward and seek reconciliation, justice, and harmony for all people of the United States." It was passed on the day before Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of slaves in 1865.
A disclaimer tacked on at the end said nothing in the resolution authorizes or supports reparations for slavery.
"Let us make no mistake: This resolution will not fix lingering injustices," said Senator Tom Harkin, who first introduced the apology years ago. "While we are proud of this resolution and believe it is long overdue, the real work lies ahead."
The Iowa Democrat's co-sponsor on the apology was Republican Senator Sam Brownback, whose state was dubbed "Bleeding Kansas" by newspaper editor Horace Greeley for its fierce battles over slavery.
The resolution now moves to the House, which passed a similar measure in the last Congress. That measure did not, however, include the disclaimer about reparations.
In his floor remarks, Senator Roland Burris, Democrat of Illinois and the Senate's only black member, said that the "disclaimer in no way would eliminate future actions that may be brought before this body that may deal with reparations."
[111th CONGRESS Senate Bills]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access]
[Held at Desk Senate]
S. CON. RES. 26
Apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
June 11, 2009
Mr. Harkin (for himself, Mr. Brownback, Mr. Levin, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Lautenberg, Ms. Stabenow, Mr. Bond, and Mr. Cochran) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was ordered held at the desk
Apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans.
Whereas, during the history of the Nation, the United States has grown into a symbol of democracy and freedom around the world;
Whereas the legacy of African-Americans is interwoven with the very fabric of the democracy and freedom of the United States;
Whereas millions of Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and the 13 American colonies from 1619 through 1865;
Whereas Africans forced into slavery were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized, and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage;
Whereas many enslaved families were torn apart after family members were sold separately;
Whereas the system of slavery and the visceral racism against people of African descent upon which it depended became enmeshed in the social fabric of the United States;
Whereas slavery was not officially abolished until the ratification of the 13th amendment to the Constitution of the United States in 1865, after the end of the Civil War;
Whereas after emancipation from 246 years of slavery, African-Americans soon saw the fleeting political, social, and economic gains they made during Reconstruction eviscerated by virulent racism, lynchings, disenfranchisement, Black Codes, and racial segregation laws that imposed a rigid system of officially sanctioned racial segregation in virtually all areas of life;
Whereas the system of de jure racial segregation known as ``Jim Crow'', which arose in certain parts of the United States after the Civil War to create separate and unequal societies for Whites and African-Americans, was a direct result of the racism against people of African descent that was engendered by slavery;
Whereas the system of Jim Crow laws officially existed until the 1960s--a century after the official end of slavery in the United States--until Congress took action to end it, but the vestiges of Jim Crow continue to this day;
Whereas African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow laws--long after both systems were formally abolished--through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty;
Whereas the story of the enslavement and de jure segregation of African-Americans and the dehumanizing atrocities committed against them should not be purged from or minimized in the telling of the history of the United States;
Whereas those African-Americans who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws, and their descendants, exemplify the strength of the human character and provide a model of courage, commitment, and perseverance;
Whereas, on July 8, 2003, during a trip to Goree Island, Senegal, a former slave port, President George W. Bush acknowledged the continuing legacy of slavery in life in the United States and the need to confront that legacy, when he stated that slavery ``was . . . one of the greatest crimes of history . . . The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation. And many of the issues that still trouble America have roots in the bitter experience of other times. But however long the journey, our destiny is set: liberty and justice for all.'';
Whereas President Bill Clinton also acknowledged the deep-seated problems caused by the continuing legacy of racism against African-Americans that began with slavery, when he initiated a national dialogue about race;
Whereas an apology for centuries of brutal dehumanization and injustices cannot erase the past, but confession of the wrongs committed and a formal apology to African-Americans will help bind the wounds of the Nation that are rooted in slavery and can speed racial healing and reconciliation and help the people of the United States understand the past and honor the history of all people of the United States;
Whereas the legislatures of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the States of Alabama, Florida, Maryland, and North Carolina have taken the lead in adopting resolutions officially expressing appropriate remorse for slavery, and other State legislatures are considering similar resolutions; and
Whereas it is important for the people of the United States, who legally recognized slavery through the Constitution and the laws of the United States, to make a formal apology for slavery and for its successor, Jim Crow, so they can move forward and seek reconciliation, justice, and harmony for all people of the United States: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring),
That the sense of the Congress is the following:
(1) Apology for the enslavement and segregation of african-americans.--The Congress--
(A) acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws;
(B) apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws; and
(C) expresses its recommitment to the principle that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and calls on all people of the United States to work toward eliminating racial prejudices, injustices, and discrimination from our society.
(2) Disclaimer.--Nothing in this resolution--
(A) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or
(B) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.
NOTHING FROM NOTHING LEAVES NOTHING?
Structure of the Birth Certificate
Did the State Pledge Your Body to a Bank?
By: David Deschesne
Advanced Civics Research Library
Right: Some birth and marriage certificates are now "warehouse receipts," printed on banknote paper, which may mark you and yours as 'chattel' property of the banks that our government borrows from every day.
A certificate is a "paper establishing an ownership claim." - Barron's Dictionary of Banking Terms. Registration of births began in 1915, by the Bureau of Census, with all states adopting the practice by 1933.
Birth and marriage certificates are a form of securities called "warehouse receipts." The items included on a warehouse receipt, as descried at §7-202 of the Uniform Commercial Code, the law which governs commercial paper and transactions, which parallel a birth or marriage certificate are:
-location of the warehouse where the goods are stored...(residence)
-the date of issue of the receipt.....("Date issued")
-the consecutive number of the receipt...(found on back or front of the certificate, usually in red numbers)
-a description of the goods or of the packages containing them...(name, sex, date of birth, etc.)
-the signature of the warehouseman, which may be made by his authorized agent...(municipal clerk or state registrar's signature)
Birth/marriage certificates now appear to at least qualify as "warehouse receipts" under the Uniform Commercial Code. Black's Law Dictionary, 7th ed. defines:
warehouse receipt. "...A warehouse receipt, which is considered a document of title, may be a negotiable instrument and is often used for financing with inventory as security."
Since the U.S. went bankrupt in 1933, all new money has to be borrowed into existence. All states started issuing serial-numbered, certificated "warehouse receipts" for births and marriages in order to pledge us as collateral against those loans and municipal bonds taken out with the Federal Reserve's banks. The "Full faith and Credit" of the American people is said to be that which back the nation's debt. That simply means the American people's ability to labor and pay back that debt. In order to catalog its laborers, the government needed an efficient, methodical system of tracking its property to that end. Humans today are looked upon merely as resources - "human resources," that is.
Governmental assignment of a dollar value to the heads of citizens began on July 14, 1862 when President Lincoln offered 6 percent interest bearing-bonds to states who freed their slaves on a "per head" basis. This practice of valuating humans (cattle?) continues today with our current system of debt-based currency reliant upon a steady stream of fresh new chattels to back it.