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March/April 2006 issue of Poverty & Race

We periodically offer a compendium of recent reports dealing with apologies and reparations around the world — for whatever lessons and models they might provide here at home. The most recent appeared in our January/February 2005 issue, and one of the chapters in our new “best of P&R” book — Poverty & Race in America: The Emerging Agendas (Lexington Books, 2006) — contains the “best” of prior examples. We’ll be happy to send you a compendium of all 9 earlier such reports; just send us a SASE (63˘ postage).

  • The Church of England, two centuries after profiting from the venture, has apologized to the descendants of its victims for its role in the global slave trade, which involved running a Caribbean island (Barbados) sugar plantation and branding the blacks who worked on it. A further instance cited in the apology was a $23,000 payment made to the Bishop of Exeter in compensation for the loss of 665 slaves after Barbados emancipated them in 1833. (Wash. Post, 2/11/06)

  • South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford signed a bill to add the name of former Senator Strom Thurmond’s biracial daughter — Essie Mae Washington-Williams — to the list of his children engraved on his monument. (NY Times, 6/29/04)

  • The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, a Roman Catholic religious order in Ireland, apologized unconditionally for the “physical and emotional trauma” its nuns inflicted on children raised in its orphanages and schools. A 1966 television documentary that exposed the extent of abuse at one of the Dublin orphanages in the 1950s and 1960s prompted an earlier public apology, but the most recent statement went further, noting that abuse survivors had dismissed the earlier apology as conditional and incomplete. (NY Times, 5/6/04)

  • Norway will compensate the country’s 8,000-12,000 “war children” — born to Norwegian women and German soldiers during the World War II German occupation — for the systematic harassment and bullying they were subjected to after the war. Each will receive $3,000-$30,000; but the amounts fall short of claims of up to $72,000 sought by the Association of War Children. (NY Times, 7/3/04)

  • Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn and a representative of the Illinois State Legislature came to Salt Lake City to present to Utah Governor Olene Walker and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a copy of Illinois’ House Resolution 793, expressing “official regret” for the violence and state-sanctioned condemnation that caused the Mormons to leave the state in 1846 on the trek that led them to Utah. (NY Times, 4/8/04)

  • Under a bill approved by the state’s Senate, stretches of Mississippi highways in three counties are being renamed for James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, the three civil rights workers murdered by Klan members in Philadelphia, MS in 1964. The bill also will rename a portion of another highway the Emmett Till Memorial Highway. (Wash. Post, 2/11/05)

  • The Dutch national railway company apologized for its role in deporting thousands of Jews to Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Poland during World War II. The company collaborated with Nazi occupiers in transporting 107,000 Jews, 70% of the country’s Jewish community. (NY Times, 9/30/05)

  • Great Britain will seek ways to compensate African countries for the thousands of medical professionals who leave the continent to work in the British health service. The compensation will take the form of in-country training, provision of medicines to help with tackling infrastructure problems — albeit no financial compensation. About 70,000 qualified Africans leave their home countries every year to work abroad, in the UK, other parts of Europe, and the US, leaving the world’s poorest nations battling epidemics of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis without sufficient qualified medical personnel. (NY Times, 8/20/05)

  • Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco has pardoned a woman arrested in 1963 while trying to integrate a public swimming pool. (NY Times, 1/17/05)

  • Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi observed the 60th anniversary of the Japan’s defeat in World War II by apologizing for the country’s past militarism in Asia and pledging to uphold its postwar pacifism. However, China, Korea and other Asian nations feel this is inadequate, pointing to Japan’s adoption of textbooks that whitewash its wartime past, as well as the Prime Minister’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, the Shinto memorial where Class A war criminals are enshrined along with the war dead. (NY Times, 4/23/05, 8/16/05)

  • Can’t win ‘em all: A federal judge in Chicago, for the second time, dismissed a suit by slave descendants for reparations from corporations that benefited from slavery, holding that it was a political issue for the legislative or executive branch to deal with, and that since slavery was abolished a century and a half ago, the statute of limitations rules out damages. (Wash. Post & NY Times, 7/7/05)

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