New York Times columnist Timothy Egan appeared on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon Tuesday to defend a provocative piece he authored arguing for President Obama to apologize on behalf of the United States for slavery.

Egan’s central claim is that conditions of racial strife currently plaguing the nation tie back heavily to its original sin of slavery, reasoning that the significance of the first black President of the United States apologizing for the institution would “would ripple, positively, in ways that may be felt for years.”

Radio host and activist Joe Madison responded to Egan’s assertion by countering that it is not the responsibility of a black president to apologize for an institution “based on white supremacy” but rather that an apology should come from “those individuals whose heritage are benefitted from [slavery].”