Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the Senate passed a resolution apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African Americans:
“In the nearly 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, America has taken serious and sincere steps to heal the deep wounds of one of history’s greatest crimes against humanity. This resolution is another one of those steps.
“And in just the last four years, the Senate has taken significant strides to bring to life the words of our nation’s most sacred documents that all men are created equal, and that all are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“In 2005, we formally apologized for our past failure to pass anti-lynching legislation that could have prevented and more properly punished those responsible for the brutal killing of countless Americans.
“A year later, we renewed the Voting Rights Act, renewing our commitment to guarantee that millions of minority voters get equal opportunity to participate in our elections.
“Last year, Congress again took steps to correct injustice when we passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act, giving the Department of Justice and the FBI the tools they need to better investigate and prosecute unsolved civil rights-era murders.
“And just a few weeks ago in the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, we unveiled the bust of the great abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth – a woman who, because of her race, had never before been recognized alongside the scores of American heroes memorialized in this building.
“Congress’ condemnation of the legalized slavery and segregation of millions of our own is long overdue. No one pretends that a mere apology – or any words – can right the wrongs of the past. But it represents our recognition of that past and our commitment to more fully live up to our nation’s promise in the future. We should live in a way so that 150 years from today, those who come after us will not have to apologize for our actions.”