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U.S. Lawmakers Apologize for Slavery

Chains of Slavery

Tuesday marked the first time the federal government has ever offered up a formal apology for the "fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity" of the legal slave trade and segregation of African Americans.

The man who introduced the resolution in 2007, Congressman Steve Cohen, lauded the event:

"This is a historic moment in the ongoing struggle for civil rights in this country, and I hope that this legislation can serve to open the dialogue on race and equality for all," he said in a statement.

"Apologies are not empty gestures, but are a necessary first step towards any sort of reconciliation between people," said Cohen, who represents the area of Memphis, Tennessee.

Click here to read the full transcript of Rep. Cohen's formal resolution.

Cohen won his seat in 2006, after beating the younger brother of former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. He now represents a largely black district and is up for reelection.

What do you think of the apology and of Cohen's motivation for seeing it through?