Yesterday's USA Today brought this story that Senator Brownback of Kansas and Harkin of Iowa may introduce legislation apologizing for slavery and Jim Crow laws. (Jim Crow is the name of the period of segregation that followed the end of the Civil War in 1865. It's typically said to have ended around 1965 with the passage of comprehensive federal civil rights legislation.) We'll see where this all goes. You may recall that there were hearings in the House Judiciary Committee last December on Congressman Conyer's H.R. 40--a bill to study the legacy of slavery in our country.
In the roundup of academics' writings on these apologies, you might be interested in reading University of Michigan Professor Gordon Beauchamp's "Apologies All Around" from the December 2007 American Scholar and University of Georgia Professor James Cobb's "The Politics of Apologies." Both are skeptical of apologies.