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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  • by Trista Location: Tennessee on Sep 7, 2008 at 10:49 PM
    i dont think that tennessee needs to say sorry, what happened happened and you cant change that, i did nothing wrong, so therefore i aint going to say sorry. The black community needs to get over it. I think the south has did more than enough for the blacks. Now days they get away with more than the whites do. maybe they need to apologize to us!
  • by Tyrone Location: Bronx,N.Y. on Nov 19, 2007 at 12:01 PM
    Yes, I feel that Tennesse and all of the southern states should apologize for slavery, but a mere apology won't make up for 246 years of enslavement of blacks in America. Perhaps if us African Americans were paid thousands or millions of dollars for the slavery-it would be more justice,but ofcourse this will never happen.There is still forms of mental and modern slavery going on today.
  • by Troy Location: Brooklyn,N.Y. on Nov 17, 2007 at 01:09 PM
    I feel that Tennesse and all the southern states should apologize for slavery-because it was wrong,but a mere apology can't make up for the nearly 300 years of American slavery in which us African Americans ancestors was stolen from Africa-then shackled and chained in the bottoms of slave ships in anguish and their own waste for an average of 80 to 90 day voyages-which at the end of they had to face more physical&physchic horrors as slaves. Our ancestors had to be a hell of a people to survive all that.But an apology is better than nothing. American slavery was the worst form of slavery next to Egyptian-Hebrew slavery.
  • by Leonard Pitts Jr. Location: Freeport, Texas on Jun 26, 2007 at 03:24 AM
    No those slaves have died &no one here is living in those conditions,evryone can work get paid & enjoy the same benefits. Its time true Americans quit asking for what they don't deserve especially when it doesn't apply to them! Stopping trying to force the generations of today to live in the past! Get on with all you can enjoy as we all can. I don't see the million$ Sports players complaining about changed times & no one else should either!Stop trying to cry me a river!
  • by new20fan Location: knoxville on Jun 26, 2007 at 12:54 AM
    hell no...if we apologize to any one it should be the redman..not the black one..white man ran the red man off his own land..the black men were traded for gold by there own people..let them apologize to them...enough is enough, quit crying and start trying!!!
  • by Renee on Jun 25, 2007 at 10:38 PM
    NO!!!!The only apology that needs to be given is to the Lord for taking prayer out of public buildings.If everyone would worry about that this world maybe a safer place for our children.
  • by becky Location: jamestown on Jun 25, 2007 at 10:31 PM
    I dont think there should be an apology because the African Americans today wasnt there and the younger generation (white) dont care.I think they get enough free benifits to make up many centuries of slavery that the poorest white person dont get because their not black or African American so why cant it be let go.This country has more serious things to be concerned about and the main is Right Of Religion!!
  • by Earl Brown Location: Knoxville on Jun 24, 2007 at 11:33 PM
    Blanket apologies are useless. Slavery was abolished, and that action should convey some sort of retraction. If we start issueing apologies, how many different ethnic groups that may have been offended by some political action in the past, would come forward demanding an apology? And of course by todays modern standards, an aplogy would be expected to be followed by some kind of compensation. How silly is that?
  • by Chris Location: home on Jun 24, 2007 at 05:59 AM
    No, I do not think Tennessee should apologize for slavery. The Civil War showed how Americans felt about slavery.Freedom was paid for at a terrible loss of life. Slavery was abolished and we as a nation have strived and still do and I'm sure will continue to recognize the worth of each American as a free American. People make themselves slaves today.Black and white alike make them selves slaves to sin and what ever device they choose. Alcohol,drugs,sexual immorality,criminal activities etc. The list could go on and on. I abhor the very thought of slavery and it is terrible and it is ongoing right now in other parts of the world.
  • by chris Location: knox on Jun 23, 2007 at 06:18 AM
    Do you ever offer the e-mail addresses or phone numbers of our senators,congressmen the president? There are times I would like to send them comments about the laws etc. Thank you
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