Charleston’s slavery apology resolution: 1 year later

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Wednesday marks one year since Charleston City Council passed the slavery apology resolution and the city is honoring the promises they made in the resolution. 

June 19th is a historic day in Charleston and across the nation. On June 19, 1865 the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, which abolished slavery in Texas, and ultimately emancipated all enslaved African-Americans in the United States. More than 150 years later on June 19, 2018, the city of Charleston made history by passing the first slavery apology resolution in the state.  The resolution includes six action items:

  1. For the City of Charleston to denounce and apologize for the treatment toward African Americans.
  2. For the city to commit to eliminating prejudice, injustice, and discrimination within the city. 
  3. For businesses and institutions to commit to strive for equality. 
  4. The city to pledge to create quality education for all children by working with the Charleston County School District
  5. To promote an understanding of the contributions made by African-Americans. 
  6. For the city to promote racial harmony within the city by creating a Racial Reconciliation Office. 

One year later, action item number six is getting ready launch.

“We are so excited because we are in the process of hiring the city’s new diversity and racial reconciliation manager,” Charleston City Councilman William Dudley-Gregorie said.

Gregorie was one of the driving forces behind the resolution. He said the new manager will oversee the racial reconciliation office.

“That gives us a better chance for that person to guide us through the six action items listen in the resolution,” he said.

The new manager will start on July 1. Her duties will include a myriad of responsibilities.

“One is going to be looking at our own ordinances to see whether or not they are strong enough to make sure that we have the laws to protect all persons in this city,” the city’s Corporation Counsel said. “We are going to be doing some outreach education. We will be setting up reporting systems.”

The reporting systems will allow people who believe they are victims of racial intolerance or racial discrimination to have a place to report the event. The manager will also oversee the committees that were formed for each action item.

“There are committees working on education, housing, zoning,” Gregorie said. “We’re sure she will help us shepherd that through and go beyond the walls of city hall. Everyone knows that we have nothing to do with education but those kids are our constituents. As a result of that, that’s one of the things we will be looking at; housing shortages, discrimination in housing. Discrimination is still rampant today the only difference is it’s done with a smile.”

Councilman Gregorie said the work starts by looking within. “You’ve got to look internally before you start looking out to determine if we have unintended discriminatory practices within our city.”

Charleston’s Mayor John Tecklenburg said the city has made great strides in the positive direction since the passing of the resolution and that he’s on board to continue making a difference when it comes to racial inequality within Charleston.

“We’ll be reviewing all those things not just in the city but in the community regarding diversity and looking at issues through the lens of if there are any disparities that exist and making them better,” Tecklenburg said.

It’s an ongoing effort to make us one Charleston and the city says they will continue working to enhance racial tolerance in Charleston.

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