The Baltimore Sun

ISSUE: -- An Annapolis alderman has introduced a resolution that would express atonement for slavery. What are your thoughts on the measure?

Apology for slavery not forward looking

Apologizing for slavery would be like apologizing for the Civil War or any other event in history.

Taking history out of context distorts its meaning. Events of the past occurred because of the then-current situations and conditions. Decisions were based on the facts that existed at the time.

Those who made the decisions were intelligent, God-fearing people who thought they were doing what was right.

There is no need to apologize for slavery. A present-day analogy would be comparable to apologizing now for the war in Iraq.

The president and his staff thought, at the time, it was the right thing to do. In retrospect, everything is 20-20.

It certainly does nothing to improve race relations and if anything, creates more tension. Recalling a quote from Winston Churchill: "There must be what Mr. Gladstone many years ago called 'a blessed act of oblivion.' We must all turn our backs upon the horrors of the past. We must look to the future. We cannot afford to drag forward across the years that are to come, the hatreds and revenges which have sprung from the injuries of the past."

Robert Pallone


Education can atone for past

I would prefer that the aldermen have a resolution to atone for the lack of a decent middle school curriculum in Anne Arundel County.

Algebra came from Africa. I like algebra. However, the empty symbolic gesture award should go to the school board for its plan to make every kid take algebra in ninth grade.

Let Sam Shropshire write a resolution that tells the county that music feeds the mind to know algebra; foreign language feeds the mind to know algebra; science gives a mind a reason to care about knowing algebra; social studies is the only subject that brings together everything: music, art, economics and the culture of another part of the world.

Put those subjects back into the middle school curriculum, and that will be atonement for slavery.

Mary Alice Gehrdes Annapolis

Greedy business needs to apologize

Economics drives slavery. The need for cheap labor by business to produce goods and profits makes slavery in one form or another acceptable.

Whether captured, sold, indentured or tricked into servitude, slavery has been in style for thousands of years.

Its goal was and is to exploit -- the weak, poor, ignorant, women and children -- reducing costs and maximizing profits. And whether African, Irish, Chinese or Mexican, they all suffer/ed brutality from economic tyranny in the United States and around the world.

An apology to the African-American community alone is too narrow. Time would be better spent doing what U.S. governments on all levels are supposed to do: deter greed, limit excesses of power, enforce laws equitably and provide an education for its citizens. It's the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that should be apologizing.

Maryellen O. Brady Edgewater

Symbolic gesture changes nothing

An apology for slavery is a great gesture, but it is just that: a symbolic gesture.

No one around today in our area, no matter what skin color, had anything to do with slavery. The past is gone, those affected are gone; we can do nothing about it. It would be a nice symbolic gesture.

The gesture would do nothing in my mind to change any race relations. If people are using slavery against people still today, then there are more problems than I thought.

If anyone wants to offer an apology now, it might be for the way people were treated during the civil rights movement.

Victor Henderson

Glen Burnie

Apology won't heal old wrongs

Apology for what?

I wonder how many African slave descendants would be alive today if their ancestors weren't brought to this country from a possible life of slavery or even death in Africa by the same Africans that did the slave trading.

Slavery wasn't right by any means, but in most cases they had a better life expectancy in this country than if they had stayed in Africa. They were an asset to most slave owners and were treated as such. They were fed, clothed and given shelter for their labor. I wonder how that would have compared to being a slave in Africa?

My father came to this country in 1908, speaking little or no English, which he eventually learned on his own.

Farm jobs were the only available work. The working conditions weren't much different than slave labor, but through hard work and with gratitude for being in this country, he raised seven law-abiding American citizens who give thanks for him coming to this great country.

We are not looking for an apology because he had to work so hard to get us through the poverty of the Great Depression on about $12 a week. Like I said, we give thanks for being here.

The people who are looking for the apologies for slavery to heal the wounds from mistakes that have been corrected over and over again are only keeping the wounds open instead of letting them heal.

Don't they know that you have to stop poking at a wound to let it heal? Are we going to apologize to every nationality that came to this country and were mistreated? If so we have a long way to go and we better get started.

Robert Wagner Millersville

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