- The Washington Times - Monday, June 13, 2005

The Senate yesterday passed a resolution of apology for its failure to pass anti-lynching legislation 101 years after the first such bill was introduced in Congress.

The resolution is the first apology by Congress on the nation’s past deeds of “terrorism” against blacks, but senators said it was important to note that American Indians, Italians, Mexicans and Americans of other ethnicities were also subject to lynchings.

“It is important that we address this issue in the United States and are honest with ourselves and tell the truth about what happened,” said Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat and a co-sponsor of the resolution. “The Senate was uniquely culpable as the House passed three bills that the Senate failed to act on.”

Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, also a co-sponsor said the resolution, said it “does show the character of this nation that we are still trying to achieve that goal of justice and equality for all.”

The Senate held three hours of debate on the apology and passed the resolution by voice vote, which some senators said spoke volumes about race relations.

“It is a statement in itself that there are not 100 co-sponsors on this resolution and a statement that we are not having an up-or-down vote,” said Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

About 75 senators signed an enlarged facsimile of the resolution that has been displayed in the Democratic and Republican Senate cloakrooms for the past week. Mrs. Landrieu said many senators have been traveling and that the resolution will stay on display to give all senators an opportunity to sign it.

Supporters of the resolution said this will only be a beginning in their effort to right the wrongs of slavery and government-sanctioned Jim Crow policies that denied blacks the right to vote, eat and drink at the place of their choosing, among myriad other infringements.

Lawyer E. Faye Williams said she will not rest until the Senate’s oldest office building no longer carries the name of former Sen. Richard B. Russell, Georgia Democrat, who led a filibuster for six days to block one of the anti-lynching bills in 1935.

“We started with that in mind, but we did not get a single sponsor to change the name of the office building,” Mrs. Williams said. “This apology is a rebuke of Sen. Russell, but we will not stop.”

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