Kirk Douglas pleased with House resolution apologizing for slavery

DOUGLAS: The actor seeks a formal apology for slavery.
DOUGLAS: The actor seeks a formal apology for slavery.
(Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

For some years now, Hollywood legend Kirk Douglashas been campaigning for a formal apology to African Americans for the institution of slavery. Like other advocates, he’s been urging Congress and every presidential candidate to go on record for the apology.

More recently, it’s become a regular topic on his popular MySpace page, where he often makes the case to the site’s many young readers.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a formal national apology to the descendants of those Americans who were brought here as slaves from Africa. Douglas got the news during a luncheon at the Grill restaurant in Beverly Hills and read the story on a BlackBerry. His eyes misted and he said: “This is the best news I’ve heard in a long time.”

Douglas immediately began making plans to send a letter of commendation to the measure’s sponsor, Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).

But more important, the actor got on his website and blogged. He urged his site’s visitors to sign his petition -- which he started two years ago -- calling for a national apology for slavery.

“I will compile all the signatures and send them to the President of the United States in hope that he will consider the resolution of an apology,” he wrote.

Douglas said: “We will show the world that the strongest nation is capable of humanity.”

Celebrities and campaign ads

The Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpartisan group, has been keeping track of media coverage in the presidential campaign. Last week was something of a milestone because, as the PEJ reported Tuesday, total print and broadcast space given to that of John McCain’s campaign equaled that of Barack Obama’s for the fist time in months.

The reason? The Paris Hilton- Britney Spears ad.

But if people think it dominated the serious news coverage, night owls got more than an earful from the political comics.

A sampling:

“Have you seen the new commercial? The McCain campaign compares Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton,” Jay Leno asked an audience. “And today the Obama campaign released an ad comparing John McCain to Zsa Zsa Gabor and Bea Arthur.”

Later, he quipped: “And as you know, the McCain campaign is running that commercial where they’re comparing Barack Obama to various Hollywood celebrities. And as you know, if there’s one thing the Republicans will not stand for, it’s electing some Hollywood celebrity to public office. Except for Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood -- you know, except for those.”

David Letterman weighed in with this: “A new campaign ad from John McCain unfavorably compares Barack Obama and Britney Spears. Reporters tried to contact McCain to get a response to this criticism, but they couldn’t get ahold of him. He was busy having his dinner on a TV tray watching ‘Jeopardy.’ ”