National Juneteenth Observance Foundation
                         Celebration of Freedom



Congressman Tony P. Hall
U.S. House of Representatives
1432 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

June 19, 2000

WASHINGTON— Rep. Tony P. Hall, D-Ohio, today called for Congress to apologize for promoting and sustaining slavery and its legacy. After addressing African-Americans gathered to celebrate "Juneteenth" – the date in 1865 the last slaves in America learned they were free – Hall introduced "The Apology for Slavery Resolution of 2000," H. Con. Res. 356. His full statement is attached.

"Americans have tried to heal our race problems many times before today, but perhaps we can find more lasting solutions if we change our approach," Hall said. "These three words – I am sorry – are a foundation for beginning again, a small price to pay for restoring lost trust, and a necessary first step in moving forward constructively.

"Apologizing is humbling," Hall added. "To admit to a wrong, you expose your wounds and warts for all the world to see. But the United States is a great country, and it should be big enough to admit its mistakes. And it should be wise enough to do whatever is necessary to heal its divisions."

In addition to a formal apology, the bill expresses the Sense of the Congress that Congress should establish a commission to study the legacy of slavery, similar to one repeatedly proposed by Rep. Conyers; establish a national museum and memorial, similar to proposals made by Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, and Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Florida.

Original co-sponsors of the bill include Lewis; Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma; Rep. David Bonior, D-Michigan; Rep. Julia Carson, D-Indiana; Rep. Eva Clayton, D-North Carolina; Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Illinois; Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Illinois; Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas; Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana; Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio; Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Georgia; Rep. Mike McNulty, D-New York; Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-New York; Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois; Rep. Jim Traficant, D-Ohio.

                                                                                 Return to History