Here’s a rather cool interview with John Hope Franklin offering his take on the North Carolina General Assembly’s apology for slavery.
He predicted we’d seen an epidemic of such apologies which are fine but not enough if the goal is ending discrimination. (I post this for no particular reason other than that I found it awhile ago and think he’s interesting — he’s also from my hometown. Lived a long, impressive life. Left out of his long list of accomplishments was an appearance in a locally-produced and excellent documentary on his adopted hometown: “Durham: a Self-Portrait” which, among other things, is a lot more nuanced than the portraits of the city offered up after the Duke lacrosse mess.)
In his New York Times obituary: “John Hope Franklin, Scholar of African-American History, Is Dead at 94” (March 25, 2009) they quote him from an award acceptance speech saying:
“I have struggled to understand,” he went on, “how it is that we could fight for independence and, at the very same time, use that newly won independence to enslave many who had joined in the fight for independence.”
Here’s the first paragraph from “The Cover-Up” appearing in the Atlantic Monthly (November 2007):
If the American idea was to subdue Native Americans and place them at the disposal of European settlers, to import several million Africans to the New World and subject them to a lifetime of slavery, to impose on Asian immigrants a lifetime of discrimination, then perhaps the American idea was not so admirable.