Sunday, February 25, 2007

Virginia apologizes for it's role in Slavery

The Virginia General Assembly expressed it regrets for it's role in slavery. Slavery is that nasty little bit of our history that is guaranteed to spark or terminate a conversation. The ripple effects of this legacy reaches into current societal issues.

I was truly blessed to have family members who lived a long time. My paternal grandmother migrated North to ensure that her children had a decent shot at life's opportunities that white people take for granted. Some of her older brothers and sisters were slaves. Because they were descendants of slaves and slaveholders her children were a variety of shades. In the forties, one of her children became ill. She was taken to the hospital where she began to receive care. Upon my grandmother's arrival with my aunt's very dark husband, my aunt was immediately discharged. My aunt died due to lack of care.

But I only have to go back ONE generation to that of my parents to talk about their rights that were denied. My parents were the only blacks in their graduating high school classes. Both began their education is segregated classrooms. By time, they reached high school when integration occurred, most blacks were systematically pushed out of the school. My father's last name was changed because the teacher decided that she didn't like the spelling. An English teacher gave my him a failing grade because he could not have been smart enough to write the essay. My parents career choices were the military or laborers. They in turn fought hard for me and my brothers. When the high school advisor suggested that I not bother with college, it was my parents who confronted him. I am still not sure what my Mom told him to do with my college acceptance letter.

These are just a couple of the experiences that have not been forgotten by my family. They are not passed on with bitterness. Nor are they to serve as chains to shackle us, but as a reminder of where we came. When just last month a Delegate from Virginia's body, suggested that blacks need to get over slavery, just pulls the scab off of this festering wound. That delegate would be the not so honorable Frank Hargrove.

To that end, slavery is to serve as a reminder of how the founding fathers denied a segment of the population their basic rights in their quest to obtain their own.

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