The Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission is sponsoring an online survey about slavery.
Commission executive director Karl Cassell says the survey asks questions such as whether the government should apologize for slavery and whether reparations should be paid to the decedents of slaves.
"The purpose, really, is to see how people really feel about race relations, if slavery or an apology for slavery is even needed this far removed," he says.
Cassell says they got the idea for the survey after U.S. Senator Tom Harkin recently successfully sponsored a government apology for slavery. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a similar apology last year though it has not voted on the Senate’s version.
Cassell says it’s important to start conversations about the issue of slavery because human trafficking is still a big problem worldwide.
"Until we acknowledge that this has been a practice throughout history in this country, it doesn’t bring attention to, you know, we’re right back in the same place today where we were 250 years ago," he says.
Initial survey results are mixed, according to Cassell. He says most people believe there should be an apology but are not so sure about reparations.
The Commission’s survey is open until Tuesday, July 14. Cassell says the results will be posted and analyzed in an upcoming newsletter.