City Council to consider apologizing for Charleston's role in slavery

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - City Council will consider a resolution where the City of Charleston would have to denounce and apologize for its role in fostering slavery.

The initial vote is expected to take place at the City Council meeting next Tuesday.

Councilman William Dudley Gregory supports the resolution.

"I think it's overdue that we denounce and apologize for slavery, and I don't think people should take this as an individual apology," Gregory said. "This is an apology from a city that is or was the seat of the Confederacy."

Gregory says the a local group, the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative, came to him and proposed the resolution.

"I'm extremely excited that Council will be considering this resolution on Juneteenth, when the enslaved people found out that they were free. So for me this is a very historical momentous event for our city," Gregory said.

The full resolution for consideration is still being finalized but it is expected to commit the city to pursue initiatives that honor the contributions of slaves.

According to the International African American Museum website, almost half of all enslaved Africans who came to the United States first arrived in the port of Charleston.

James Bessenger, the chair of the South Carolina Secessionist Party, released a statement on the proposed resolutions saying in part,"Rather than proposing a condemnation and apology for something that took place more than 150 years ago, the City Council of Charleston should apologize for their more recent mistreatment of Blacks in Charleston."

He goes on to say, "The Charleston City Council would have the people of Charleston fall on a sword in a public spectacle to advance their own political agendas, while they continue to drive African Americans out of their neighborhoods, create food deserts, and do nothing to encourage black business ownership in the downtown area."

Gregory says the city could establish an entity responsible for research and bringing about racial reconciliation.

"We as a modern day council at a minimum should recognize the error of the ways of our predecessors and attempt to make things whole while we can," Gregory said.

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