The governor of Delaware has signed a resolution apologizing for the state’s role in slavery and the use of Jim Crow laws.
"Today we affirm that we refuse to forget our past,” Democratic Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware said at the resolution’s signing ceremony on Feb. 10, The News Journal reports. “We accept the responsibility of tearing down the barriers that face so many of our neighbors as a result of the abhorrent laws and practices carried out against African-Americans."
According to the resolution's description, it “acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow" and "apologizes, on behalf of the people of Delaware, for the State's role in slavery and the wrongs committed against African-Americans and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow," The News Journal notes.
"A candid acknowledgment and acceptance of our past is the only way to understand our present and to take full responsibility for our future," Markell said, according to the Associated Press.
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The resolution was passed by state lawmakers in January.
It is intended to be a symbolic measure to promote “reconciliation and healing.” It states that the General Assembly may not use it in, or as the basis for, any litigation.
Markell also presented a proclamation recognizing African American History Month and celebrated an exhibition commemorating the 125th anniversary of Delaware State University, a historically black school.
Delaware is the ninth state to have its legislature formally apologize for slavery.
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The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have both passed a similar resolution but they have never been combined and sent to the President for his signature.
“Delaware was one of the last states to abolish slavery, which is not something to be proud of here in the First State,” Democratic State Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden said at the signing, according to The News Journal. “Most of the states that had slavery have apologized for their historical role in such an inhumane practice, and I’m proud that Delaware is taking that step today.”