By Pamela A. Hairston, information research specialist, Library of Congress - 03/14/07 05:49 PM EDT
In this piece, Mr. Cusack writes about Rep. John Conyers and how in 1989, he introduced H.R. 40, which calls for the president to appoint three members to a seven-member commission to analyze the effects of slavery and instructs the commission to review whether “any form of compensation to the descendants of African slaves is warranted.”
As a researcher and freelance writer, I’ve followed and written about these controversial issues for years, and across America, most white Americans are vehemently against reparations of any sort. Just mention a mere apology for slavery and their shorts get all knotted. I truly believe it would be the beginning of the second civil war if our government doled out reparations to black Americans.
Last month, when the Virginia legislature apologized for slavery, it was indeed a noble gesture, long, long overdue. I’m 52 years old, born and raised in Virginia, and I feel that they need to apologize for much more. In 1951, seven black men from Martinsville, Va. were executed for the rape of one white woman. It was the largest mass execution for rape in U.S. history. Although in the whole history of the United States, no white man had ever been executed for the rape of a black woman, these boys (five were teenagers) were electrocuted. Around the world, they became known as the Martinsville Seven. (The true story of the Seven has yet to be told.)
In 1959, in Prince Edward County, Va., the public schools were closed for five years because white folks did not want to integrate. A private school was built for the white kids, and the black kids had to go elsewhere or forgo their education. Most were forced to choose the later.
I’m sure each state has little-known stories of racial injustice such as the above. White Americans constantly tell us black Americans to “get over” slavery. Tell me: How does one “get over” history one has never known? Let me know first before I have to forget. And as for 77-year-old John Conyers, I don’t think he will live to see the day Congress apologizes for slavery, let alone grant reparations.
40 acres and a mule? Hell, right now, I’d take an acre and a chicken!
And for the record: Three of the Martinsville Seven were Hairstons, relatives of mine, and I was born and raised in Martinsville.
Sic ’em, Dick!
From Jim Koricki
(Regarding Mark S. Mellman’s column, “Cheney should resign,” March 14.) So, Mellman thinks Cheney should resign. What a genius! Like if all the other vice presidents in the history of the nation were not attack dogs for the presidents. If anything, they should take some of the leash off.