Charleston, where 40% of all US slaves entered the country, finally apologizes for its role in the slave trade

An illustration of slaves being sold in Charleston, South Carolina, about 1860.

(CNN)A mile from where ships dropped shackled Africans off by the thousands and inside a city hall built by forced labor, council members gathered Tuesday to finally apologize for Charleston's role in the slave trade.

For the South Carolina city, the apology has been in the works for a long time. The City Council picked Tuesday to approve the resolution because it's Juneteenth -- a day that celebrates the abolition of slavery.
The Charleston City Hall circa 1890
"The vestiges of slavery still plague us today," Councilman William Dudley Gregorie told CNN affiliate WCBD. He brought the bipartisan resolution to the council.
    "Either way, up or down, it will show the world -- it will give the world a barometer of where we stand as a city in the 21st century as it relates to racial reconciliation," he said.
    The two-page resolution is not just an apology; it's also an acknowledgment that slavery brutalized a people and stripped them of their culture and values.
    "The institution of slavery did not just involve physical confinement and mistreatment," it says. "It also sought to suppress, if not destroy, the cultural, religious and social values of Africans by stripping Africans of their ancestral names and customs, humiliating and brutalizing them through sexual exploitation, and selling African relatives apart from one another without regard to the connection of family, a human condition universal among all peoples of the world."

    Slavery's role in Charleston's history

    Slavery riddles the history of the South Carolina city.
    Forty percent of Africans forcibly brought to the US set foot on American soil here. In fact, some 80% of African-Americans can trace their roots back to Charleston, says the International African-American Museum.
    About a mile away from City Hall is Gadsden's Wharf, where slave ships docked and unloaded at least 100,000 slaves. (In 2020, the site will become the home of the International African-American Museum).