Wednesday, June 15, 2005

NAACP Ad from 1922
A plea that went unanswered.

I am more and more moved by the bi-partisan decision to apologize. The institutional sin was not an unnoticed act of omission by a distant Senate. The eyes of the nation were on them, as were the pleas of the NAACP (which was created in part to fight this very fight) and especially of organized black women who attempted a million-woman prayer vigil begging God's help in moving the Senate to do the right thing:
Put it into the hearts of the people and the ruler of our own land that the true grandeur of this nation will not consist in political dominion or the mightiness of power or the magnitude of material things, but in justice, love and mercy.

We pray Thee to enlighten the understanding and nerve the hearts of our law-makers with the political wisdom and the moral courage to pass the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, now hanging in the balance of doubt and uncertainty.

Have mercy upon any of our legislators who may be so embittered with the gall of race hatred and fettered by the bonds of political iniquity as to advocated or apologize for lynching, raping and murder.

Hear our prayer, relieve our distress, preserve our nation and save the world.
Whether or not the prayers were heard, the telegrams were not. Who can read that prayer of agony and not believe that the Senate should begin every session with an apology for their complicity? Lamar thinks this is a personal thing, that he's being asked to apologize personally, so his friendship with Alex Haley should really suffice. But it's an institutional injustice we're talking about. It demands an institutional response, at least the best that can be done at this point.

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