John Kerry: After Decades of Inaction, A Time to Heal A Nation's Wounds Over Lynching
Below is a statement by Senator John Kerry on S. Res. 39, a formal apology for the Senate's failure to pass an anti-lynching bill during the first half of the 20th century. More than 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced during that time.
"For too many who have never stopped to consider the thousands of their fellow citizens who died swinging from a tree branch because of the color of their skin, and for those who know too well the vicious act that took away a father, brother, son or loved one, this is a day of reckoning for America.
"It is tragically and unforgivably late in coming, but important that the United States Senate is now talking openly about one of the biggest stains on our history, and working to heal wounds across generations.
"Almost 5,000 Americans lost their lives to hangings, floggings and burnings. Countless others were terrorized. And every single one of them was robbed of the bedrock promise our country was built upon. We can never erase what Mr. Cameron, Mr. Wright, and too many others went through, but we can honor the legacy of these civil rights heroes before us and the martyrs who came before by finally saying on behalf of the American people, 'We are sorry, we do remember, and we will never forget.'
"I am honored to cosponsor this official apology with Senators Landrieu and Allen and Leader Reid. It is time to put into actions - not just words - the commitment to justice for which so many were so tragically killed, and to bring us one step closer on the journey of civil rights in our country."