Members of Congress observed the 400th anniversary Tuesday of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in America at a time of renewed interest over the history of slavery and its continued impact on contemporary society.
Questions about income inequality, reparations for slavery and other issues from the nation’s history of enslaving people are spilling into politics and culture with a reckoning not seen since the Civil Rights era.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not attend the ceremony but said as he opened the Senate that slavery was in many ways the country’s “original sin.”
McConnell’s own family history came under question earlier this year after it was revealed his ancestors reportedly owned slaves generations ago. On Tuesday, he said, while progress has been made, “change has come too slow.”