"Senate Issues Apology Over Failure on Antilynching Law"
SHERYL GAY STOLBERG in NY Times June 14, 2005, "Senate Issues Apology Over Failure on Antilynching Law"
"WASHINGTON, June 13 - Anthony Crawford's granddaughter went to her grave without speaking a word to her own children about his lynching, so painful was the family history. On Monday, Mr. Crawford's descendants came to the Capitol to tell it -- and to accept a formal apology from the Senate for its repeated failure, despite the requests of seven presidents, to enact a federal law to make lynching a crime.
The formal apology, adopted by voice vote, was issued decades after senators blocked antilynching bills by filibuster. The resolution is the first time that members of Congress, who have apologized to Japanese-Americans for their internment in World War II and to Hawaiians for the overthrow of their kingdom, have apologized to African-Americans for any reason, proponents of the measure said. [...]
He is James Cameron, who in 1930, as a 16-year-old shoeshine boy in Marion, Ind., was accused with two friends of murdering a white man and raping a white woman. His friends were killed. But as Mr. Cameron felt a noose being slipped around his neck, a man in the crowd stepped forward to proclaim Mr. Cameron's innocence. Mr. Cameron came here in a gray suit and a wheelchair, his voice shaky but his memories apparently fresh.
''They took the rope off my neck, those hands that had been so rough and ready to kill or had already killed, they took the rope off of my neck and they allowed me to start walking and stagger back to the jail, which was just a half-block away,'' Mr. Cameron told a news conference. ''When I got back to the jail, the sheriff said, 'I'm going to get you out of here for safekeeping.''' [...]
Although the Senate garnered praise on Monday for acting to erase that stain, some critics said lawmakers had a long way to go. Of the 100 senators, 80 were co-sponsors of the resolution, and because it passed by voice vote, senators escaped putting themselves on record.
''It's a statement in itself that there aren't 100 co-sponsors,'' Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said. ''It's a statement in itself that there's not an up-or-down vote.'' (read more)