Wachovia Apologizes for Involvement in SlaveryWachovia Corporation, which is one of the largest bank in the Philadelphia-area and manages the largest number of Philadelphia city government bank accounts, apologized today about the role their company played in the slave trade.
Wachovia came clean about the activities of its predecessor banks and their officers - including such prominent Philadelphians as Revolutionary War financier Robert Morris - under pressure from the cities of Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles, which have passed ordinances calling on city contractors to disclose any history of making money from slavery.Philadelphia City Council passed a bill requiring any companies that bid for city contracts disclose their role in the slave trade. Sponsored by Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. and Blondell Reynolds Brown, the bill was signed by Mayor Street in February. Several other cities, including Chicago and LA, has passed similar resolutions. None of the bills prohibit companies with a history of participating in the slave trade from getting city contracts-- it simply requires disclosure.
Wachovia's confession follows an admission in January by JPMorgan Chase & Co. that a predecessor in Louisiana used slaves as loan collateral. By contrast, Bank of America Corp. has denied profiting from slavery, though acknowledging that its predecessor was founded by a slave trader. But Wachovia used a broader standard, declaring that investments by its predecessors in southern-state and U.S. government bonds during slavery times were slavery-tainted.
Is an apology enough? Wachovia's statement also says they will be contributing to organizations that are "furthering awareness and education of African American history." I assume this means historical societies and related organizations. I think Councilman Goode makes a excellent point.
Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr., who cosponsored the ordinance, praised Wachovia for its admission. But, Goode added, "if they are truly sorry and want to make some reparations, they can easily do that through investments in small-business lending, home mortgage and home improvement loans to disadvantaged neighborhoods. They are doing some of that, but it is not enough to deal with the disparity that still exists" between blacks and whites.Despite an incredible amount of progress made in the stride for equality for African-Americans, huge disparities do still exist-- and they can all be traced directly to the legacies of slavery and segregation.