Response To Slavery Apology

Published 4:30 pm Monday, August 8, 2022

BY JOYCE MORTON

“The time is always right to do what is right.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I appreciate the time and efforts that were taken by Clark County’s Historian Harry Enoch and other Winchester citizens who were instrumental in pursuing a formal apology for Winchester’s historical complicity in slavery. If the saying is correct about two ways of spreading light: either a candle or a mirror, we are thankful to all participants for being that mirror of reflection.

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I am grateful that the city of Winchester has offered a formal apology to its African Americans citizens for Slavery and its successor, Jim Crow. An apology is not the last word to rectify this historic offense, but it’s a call to dismantle the structures of racism upon which our cities, states, and nation were built.

Will “sorry” ever be enough to remedy a wrong as profound as human mass enslavement? Time will decide! Yet, offering a complete and sincere apology is a liberating act for Winchester and its citizens, including its victims. Winchester’s mayor, commissioners, county judge, and magistrates, acting as stewards of this city’s conscience, have helped bring about a renewed commitment to justice and harmony for all citizens that will help our community thrive.

This historical action by Winchester’s two governing bodies is made more critical because the United States has rightly apologized to other wronged groups of fellow Americans: the World War II Japanese detainees, Hawaiians, Native Americans, and the Tuskegee syphilis study victims. In all the cases, our nation engaged in dehumanizing behavior toward a class of people, all in the name of the United States of America.

Apologizing is not just about making the wronged party feel superior or righteous. It’s an act of self-enhancement. The apologizer declares that despite the atrocities, they are no longer that person, city, or town.

What the African-American citizens can do with this apology is take pride in knowing that we are the survivors of (enslavement) this crime against humanity. Despite the current challenges of racism today, we are no longer victims. We are vibrant, productive, and unrelenting because of the achievements of so many of our enslaved ancestors throughout America’s history, especially contemporary trailblazers like Dr. Elaine Farris, Martha Miller, and Wilbur Hackett, Jr.