Should Tennessee Officially Apologize for Slavery?

By: Liz Tedone
By: Liz Tedone

Knoxville (WVLT) - Throughout the South, former slaveholding states are officially apologizing to African Americans.

It all started in March, when the state of Virginia issued a formal apology for slavery and it's aftermath. Soon after, Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina and Arkansas followed suit. Should Tennessee do the same?

Volunteer TV’s Liz Tedone looks into the controversy.

Earnestine Harris says an official state apology for slavery would mean something to her. “It does because I think in a lot of ways we're owed an apology. And if all the other states are getting it, I want to know why we're not getting it.”

The issue has not been discussed on the state level. And a proposed bill has run into some opposition on the federal level from members of the Black Caucus. They claim an apology with no policy or actions behind it, is a hollow gesture.

“I hope that this is not just a trend and the next state feels as though they have to apologize,” says Knoxville NAACP President Reverend Ezra Maize.

That perhaps if an apology is tied to a new initiative to help the African American community, it would then mean something.

Maize says an official apology is a positive political statement because we live in a culture where it's hard to say "I'm sorry."

“Not necessarily because I did anything wrong, but my apology lets you know that I don't agree with what's taken place,” Maize says.

Tennessee lawmakers are out of session now, but they did pass one bill to correct an injustice in our state's history. They expunged the criminal records of activists from the Civil Rights Era.

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