GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION DRHJR70358-LR-134 (03/28)
Representatives Womble and Parmon (Primary Sponsors).
A JOINT RESOLUTION expressing the general assembly's profound regret for the institution and lasting effects of slavery.
Whereas, many European settlers, including some of those who sailed on the Mayflower in 1620, came to the American colonies as indentured servants, served out the terms of their servitude, and then enjoyed the fruits of their labor and the protections of law; and
Whereas, some American Indians were exploited as slaves until they were replaced by Africans; and
Whereas, at least 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants were held in involuntary servitude in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865; and
Whereas, the practice of slavery began in North Carolina soon after it was established as a colony; and
Whereas, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade was a lucrative enterprise and uncompensated African slave labor was the backbone of the economic base of plantations in the colonies; and
Whereas, the sale of human beings as chattel was sanctioned and perpetuated through the laws of North Carolina and of the United States; and
Whereas, under the slave codes, persons held in involuntary servitude were not permitted to own property, to carry arms, or to move about without permission; and
Whereas, a number of Africans and their descendants who bought their freedom or were set free by former slaveholders during the 18th and early 19th centuries successfully engaged in various labors, trades, and businesses in the State despite great obstacles; and
Whereas, in the 19th century, the State began to discourage black businesses and the presence of free blacks in North Carolina and passed legislation to restrict the liberty of free blacks. An 1826 law provided that a free black who moved into the State and failed to leave after being notified of the law, after 20 days, could be fined $500.00 or held to labor for 10 years or less. An 1830 law prohibited free blacks from returning to this State after being absent for a period of 90 days or more; and
Whereas, the passage of such harsh laws served to force free persons of color from the State, often splitting families and resulting in the loss of property and economic gains; and
Whereas, in 1830, North Carolina law provided that a slave could be sentenced to 39 lashes if he or she was found guilty of teaching another slave how to read; and
Whereas, in 1860, the General Assembly enacted legislation requiring free persons of color to select their own masters and become slaves; and
Whereas, American slavery was officially abolished with the passage of the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865; and
Whereas, during the Reconstruction era former slaves and their children came under the protections of law and started making significant economic and social gains; and
Whereas, by the turn of the 20th century, a backlash against black progress during Reconstruction resulted in the rise of the white supremacist and segregationist movements; and
Whereas, Jim Crow laws were enacted to create a rigid "separate but equal" segregation system that discriminated against non-whites in many areas of life; and,
Whereas, the United States Supreme Court declared segregation unlawful in the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 and ordered the end of segregated public schools. However, soon after that decision, the General Assembly ratified a resolution providing that "the mixing of the races in the public schools within the State cannot be accomplished and if attempted would alienate public support of the schools to such an extent that they could not be operated successfully"; and
Whereas, with the Civil Rights Movement, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act finally led to the end of Jim Crow laws and the 1965 Voting Rights Act ended systematic racial discrimination in voting for federal, state, and local elections; and
Whereas, from the beginning of their presence in North Carolina and on into the 21st century, African-Americans struggle to overcome the economic and social affects of slavery and the legacy of the institutionalized racism and segregation spawned by slavery; and
Whereas, the harsh story of North Carolina slavery must be acknowledged and the faith, perseverance, hope, and endless triumphs of the descendant of slaves should be recognized; and
Whereas, an apology for centuries of injustice cannot erase the past, but the acknowledgment of wrongs can speed healing and reconciliation and help all North Carolinians confront our collective past as we move together into the future; Now, therefore,
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:
SECTION 1. The General Assembly formally apologizes for the injustice, cruelty, and brutality of slavery, cites its historical role in perpetuating slavery and racism, and expresses its profound regret for the practice of involuntary servitude in this State and for the many hardships experienced, past and present, on account of slavery.
SECTION 2. This resolution is effective upon ratification.