Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Where's the Table?! Over There in Richmond!

I thought it was a joke from the Onion Newspaper when a colleague sent me a news clip saying civil rights leader Al Sharpton's forebearers were slaves owned by Strom Thurmond's family, a longtime segregationist. Apparently it's true.

It seems, however, that the Sharptons and the Thurmonds won't be taking any lessons of transcendance from Betty Kilby Fisher and Phoebe Kilby along the lines of sitting down together at the table, as Dr. Martin Luther King dreamed.


Mr. Sharpton said he had not heard from the Thurmonds and had no immediate plans of contacting them. “This is not family,” he said firmly. “This is property.”

Amazingly, some transcendance on race issues is coming out of Richmond, Virginia - former capitol of the Confederacy. The Virginia state legislature issued an apology over the weekend for the state's past history of slavery. The Old Dominion becomes the first southern state to formally acknowledge its role through legislative channels. The measure also expressed regret for the state's treatment of Native Americans.

The resolution was introduced as Virginia begins its celebration of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, where the first Africans arrived in 1619. Richmond, home to a popular boulevard lined with statues of Confederate heroes, later became another point of arrival for Africans and a slave-trade hub.
In Virginia, black voter turnout was suppressed with a poll tax and literacy tests before those practices were struck down by federal courts, and state leaders responded to federally ordered school desegregation with a "Massive Resistance" movement in the 1950s and early '60s. Some communities created exclusive whites-only schools.

Among those voting for the measure was Delegate Frank D. Hargrove, an 80-year-old Republican who infuriated black leaders last month by saying "black citizens should get over" slavery.

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