March 28, 2008 – Florida is the latest state to express shame for the brutality it inflicted on Black people during the slavery era.
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In a resolution adopted Wednesday, the Florida Legislature expressed "profound regret for the shameful chapter in this state's history," becoming the sixth state to offer a similar apology. In doing so, it admitted that Florida had maintained a slave state from 1822, when it became a U.S. territory, to 1865, when the 13th Amendment officially ended slavery.
Florida became a state in 1845. In 1861, Florida withdrew from the Union and joined the southern Confederate states in the nation’s Civil War, which was fought largely over their right to own slaves. vvBy the time the war began, The Associated Press reports, about 44 percent of Florida 's 140,000 residents were slaves.
Included in this week’s apology resolution is acknowledgment of just how brutal Florida’s slave laws were. For example, it points out, in the 1800s, any "slave duly convicted of robbery ... or burglary shall suffer death or have his or her ears nailed to posts and there stand for one hour and receive 30 lashes on his or her bare back at the discretion of the court."
In 1861, Gov. Richard Keith Call wrote a letter to members of the House, stating that Black men were like "wild barbarian[s], to be tamed and civilized by the discipline of slavery."
Even after Blacks were freed, they were forced to endure the racist aftermath. They were denied the right to vote and, “by 1850 most had been driven from Florida." Five other U.S. states have apologized for slavery since last year, including Alabama, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia.
Should Black folks get over slavery, or do you believe the apologies are absolutely necessary? Click “Discuss Now” to post your comment.