A new year’s resolution for Delaware Gov. Jack Markell

     (<a href=New Year's goals image via ShutterStock " title="l_shutterstock_168343358" width="640" height="360"/>

    (New Year's goals image via ShutterStock

    John Watson suggests a resolution that he thinks will make thousands of black citizens, and others, happy.

    Here is John Watson’s commentary:

    Beginning in February of 2015 and continuing through December, Delaware Governor Jack Markell received five requests from a cross-section of organizations and community leaders to issue a proclamation with an apology for slavery.

    All of the requests were denied by the governor, who has chosen instead to honor a request from four black elected officials – Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Representative Stephanie Bolden, Representative J.J. Johnson and Representative Charles Potter – that he sign a resolution which they have promised to present to the Delaware State General Assembly in January, 2016.

    There is one major factor that the governor and the four elected officials have not mentioned: What happens if the apology resolution fails to pass in the General Assembly? It happened in 2010, when it was never even released from committee.

    The Wilmington News Journal article published late last year prompts me to raise two questions about the apology for slavery issue and to suggest a new year’s resolution for the governor.

    First, if the prime minister of Japan has agreed to apologize for the sexual exploitation of Korean women who were used as sex slaves by the Japanese military during World War II, why is it that Governor Markell refuses to apologize for the exploitation of blacks in Delaware during slavery?

    This exploitation of blacks, especially black women, over hundreds of years of slavery far exceeded the several years of sexual exploitation of Korean women. Yet, Japan has agreed to apologize while our governor has only agreed to sign an apology resolution IF it passes the General Assembly.

    Second question: Is the moral compass of our governor operating on a different value system than that of the Japanese prime minister?

    The answer is yes. And further, I feel that Governor Markell will suffer from a lingering guilty conscience if he does not change his mind.

    During this time of year when many people make new year’s resolutions, I want to recommend one to the governor which will make thousands of black citizens, and others, happy and which could be redemptive in terms of Delaware’s dismal historical record in denouncing slavery. (For the uninformed, Delaware was the 2nd to last state to ratify the13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1901, 36 years after it was finally ratified on December 6th, 1865.)

    In February, 2016, on the 115th Anniversary of Delaware’s somewhat meaningless ratification of the 13th Amendment, in the likely event that the slavery apology resolution is not passed by our General Assembly, GOVERNOR MARKELL SHOULD RESOLVE TO ISSUE HIS OWN PROCLAMATION CONTAINING AN APOLOGY FOR SLAVERY – an action which does not require legislative approval – just his signature as the head of the executive branch of government in Delaware.

     

     John Watson is a long time observer of Wilmington and Delaware from his perch as a radio talk show host. You can write him: JohnWatson1506@comcast.net

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.