On February 27th, 2007, United States Congressman Steve Cohen introduced a bill that called for an official apology for slavery and the Jim Crow laws.
No one can deny that the institution of slavery and the subsequent Jim Crow laws helped to create the social, economic, and political environment of the country, particularly with respect to the conditions of African-Americans.
But really, what good will an apology do? Will it have an impact of the future of the African-American community? Is it intended to provide closure to those who have felt the repercussions of these institutions and practices? I would say not. Instead, it is just an excuse to clear the federal government from its unappealing past. This is a passive response that does not address the current situations, just the past. Cohen did mention that the affects of slavery and Jim Crow laws are "still lingering." Well, why not address these lingering effects instead? The federal government should stop trying to find ways to pat themselves on the back and instead explore opportunities to enhance the welfare of the African-American community. Racial segregation and discrimination have led to inequities across the board: housing, education, economic opportunity, public service allocation, access to resources, etc. If the United States government wants to apologize for their past, don't just say "Oh yeah, about that whole slavery/discrimination thing... sorry about that. My bad." It's time to look forward and find ways to alleviate these gross inequities and ensure opportunity and access to those still feeling these lingering effects.
Bottom line: actions speak louder than words... but that won't stop the United States government from ensuring that this self-indulgent flatulence will be heard around the world.