Should States Apologize for Slavery?

TIME Magazine asks this question. What do you think?


I personally do see value in these “sponsored apologies” like this one and the one by Bill Clinton on for the Tuskegee Experiment.

However, it is important to understand that these types of symbolic gestures are not and should not be the goal of the civil rights activist. The activist’s goal(s) should be more about creating present-day solutions than securing apologies for yesterday’s evils.

One Love. One II.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

3 responses to “Should States Apologize for Slavery?”

  1. Kyle says :

    I see tremendous value in them as well. I agree with you, G, that they should not be the “goal” of civil rights activists (or any activists for that matter), but the gesture of it does hold some weight. To never apologize is to never recognize; why say you’re sorry for something that never occurred? At least with these, it’s opening avenues for discussion or at least for thought. Granted, somebody may look at these as legistaors finding a way to “get these Black people off our back”, but at least it’s taking conscious effort to do so. I don’t know; I don’t think they’re fruitless, I don’t think they’re the be-all-end-all, but they’re something. Now if these could come without activists having to divert time and resources away from those present-day solutions (that is to say, of legislator’s own volition), then that’s even more positive. As long as the fight doesn’t end here – and I don’t have reason to believe that it has or will – then an apology is a positive benefit along the way.

  2. Brandon Q. says :

    Garlin, I voted no. I think states should apologize but the fact is that none of the slave trade could have been supported without the active support of the federal government. I think there should still be some remedy for descendants of slaves and I think states taking the lead on this issue will allow the federal government to sit on their hands and deem this issue as “state’s rights.”

    Leaving this issue to be handled by the states is what allowed such horrific crimes to be carried out for so long. And it wasn’t until the federal government got involved that we saw any real change anyway!

    Stay up fam,

  3. Amani Channel says :

    I think it’s a step in the right direction. I have respect for VA, and MD lawmakers for issuing an official apology. It’s so interesting how the feds won’t go near it. The irony is that a nation founded on equality doesn’t want to admit the fundamental injustice that this country was build on, being the institution of slavery.

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