Lamentation and optimism for an Omaha man attending slavery commemoration on Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Omaha’s Willie Hamilton is in Washington this week for a solemn occasion. Hundreds gathered inside Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday for a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first-recorded forced arrival of enslaved African people, put on by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Willie Hamilton says he hopes tangible change occurs when it comes to inequality that persist in the U.S. (Source: Gray DC)

Hamilton is the founder of Black Men United, a grassroots organization looking to foster black male achievement. The caucus invited Hamilton to attend with Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE).

The ceremony included lawmaker speeches focusing on the atrocity of slavery.

“We can’t just embrace the parts of our history that make us feel good,” said Rep. Karen Bass, chair of the CBC.

Many spoke about what more needs to be done, things like voting rights, modern day race relations, and making amends.

Hamilton says being at the ceremony was a healing process of sorts, reflecting on that dark period in history and thinking about changes that still need to be made.

“I’m just hoping that this is just not just a commemoration. That we’re actually going to put things in place to move forward,” said Hamilton.

Bacon says Congress should be an aid.

“There’s more things we can do to ensure success so that African Americans have an equal opportunity in our country,” said Bacon.

He says that includes employment opportunities, education equality, helping folks after incarceration, all things he thinks can be improved with the help of government at all levels.

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