Still waiting for the Delaware slavery apology

 This is an undated photo of an illustrated depiction of slaves in captivity. (AP Photo)

This is an undated photo of an illustrated depiction of slaves in captivity. (AP Photo)

Before Black History Month is almost over, the State of Delaware (The First State) should do what should have been done a long time ago.

Here is John Watson’s commentary:

It’s one of the first negative things I heard about Delaware, when I began working as a talk show host at WILM Radio in the mid 1980’s.

Those in a position of authority need to stop the talking and doing something about this continued negative image hanging over the state. It’s time to push the General Assembly to pass a resolution apologizing for Delaware’s actions when it comes to the embarrassment of slavery.

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The News Journal recently published a story, from distinguished history professor Dr. Samuel Hoff of Delaware State University.

Hoff has pointed out the Dover Human Relations Commission passed a resolution in 2010 urging the General Assembly to apologize for slavery and its aftermath. But that body has basically sat on its butt doing nothing about it. I think they should be ashamed of themselves. The governor is said to be ready to sign it, if and when the resolution passed.

Hoff points out that the slavery apology movement in Delaware isn’t haphazard or spur of the moment. It is part of similar actions at the federal and local level in several states, including those which were part of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

He says, it all started with a Facebook post from someone in another state It’s a conversation that no one else had done, but was sorely needed.

In his News Journal piece, Hoff said, “logically and legally, a slavery apology trumps a pardon. A slavery apology goes to the heart of the state’s despicable past, by indicating the laws which permitted slavery to exist.” He called those laws morally bankrupt.

In the piece, Professor Hoff said he agrees with Wilmington City Councilwoman Loretta Walsh, who had recently said, “I don’t think it’s ever too late for a government to right a wrong.” 

But he went on to add she was supporting a pardon that is partial and secondary in contrast to the inhuman conditions which John Hunn (Odessa farmer who was the “station manager” of the Underground Railroad) and others fought so, so bravely to end.

A slavery apology recognizes that equality is an eternal truth and that violating its precepts is an affront to humanity itself.

If you don’t mind, I have one final note. Delaware, especially Wilmington, should hide its face for destroying the home of Thomas Garett, who was often left empty handed and bankrupt, after being arrested and put on trial for his support of Harriet Tubman’s work on the Underground Railroad, freeing many slaves.

As I understand it, his home was apparently destroyed to make room for some new construction. Whatever the reason, why didn’t they just move the historical home, just like they did with the historical home of Louis Redding, the first black Delaware Lawyer?

It’s time for your voice to be heard.   

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