As Country made this week On June 16, a federal holiday, lawmakers resurrect a call to end a loophole in the Constitution, in honor of the last time enslaved blacks learned they were free.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Georgian Parliamentarian Nikema Williams amended The Associated Press to change the Article 13 amendment to prohibit slavery or involuntary slavery except in the form of criminal penalties . He said he would reintroduce it.
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The exception, recognized since 1865, led to the generalization of forced labor for crimes.
Social justice advocates say he created generations of black families who were exposed to mass imprisonment and poverty, the effects of which are still felt today. juinteenth Markley said it seemed like the right time to tackle this “giant systematic racism in the middle of the Constitution”.
âAs we celebrate, if you do, you should know that the 13th Amendment and the end of slavery and its final announcementâ¦ at the same time, the 13th Amendment was flawed,â said Markley. Mentionned. “It allowed the state to arrest, convict and return to slavery for whatever reason.”
The shortcomings of the Criminal Sanctions Amendment encouraged the former Confederate states to devise ways to maintain the momentum of slavery after the Civil War. They used a restriction called âBlack Lawâ. This is a law that forces blacks to interact in a benign manner, to speak loudly not to give in on the sidewalk. Those targeted will again be detained and effectively enslaved for these minor actions.
The so-called âabolition amendmentâ was presented as a joint resolution in December. Mainly backed by Democrats in the House and Senate, he failed to gain traction until the end of the session. Markley said his hope is to ignite the national movement.
This question is important to Williams, a black woman who grew up in the South. She wants this law not to be seen through the lens of money, and what the loss of prison labor means. Instead, she says, the history of the prison system and its relationship to color must be viewed in a “human-centered” way.
âOur people are already in chains and enslaved for money,â Williams said. “We have to make sure that we are really moving forward and not spending money on crutches to continue to perpetuate the sins of the founding of the country and the history of the country.”
One of the movement’s long-standing groups is Worth Rises, a criminal justice advocacy group helping to roll out the bill. The changes had a significant impact today, said Bianca Tyrek, executive director of Worth Rise. Confined workers earn at most $ 1 for their contributions, and they are unreliable if they have to work when their jobs are injured or sick.
âWe are talking about people who can be beaten for not working. People can be denied phone calls, visits and contact with their families, âTyrek said. âPeople can be put in a cell. People can hit their record long term.
Jorge Renaud, director of the National Criminal Justice Department of Latino Justice and Parole, said those penalties happened to him when he was unable to complete part of his work. He spent most of his 27 years in a Texas jail, spending a lot of effort picking cotton, chopping down trees and grading roads. Texas does not pay jailed workers.
For Renault, 64, what was worse than unpaid was his lack of self-esteem.
âIt’s not just the choice to work, it’s the choice to do anything,â he said. âWe live in a country proud of our personalityâ¦. You are worthless and impressed again and again that you belong to a nation. “
Supporters of the bill say they target forced labor rather than voluntary prison labor programs.
“What we are saying is that the value of work must be demonstrated and people must not be forced to work against their will,” Tyrek said.
In Renault’s experience, prison work was often carried out without racial equality. White imprisoned workers were often assigned low-labor-intensive tasks, such as running prison libraries and refurbishing computers. However, their black and Latin American counterparts were forced to do the cooking and washing. He noticed a similar trend when he visited prison units with lawmakers three years ago.
âMaybe preparing something in the free world, or technology-based workâ¦ is still only for white people,â Renault said.
In more than 20 states, its own governance documents dating back to the abolition of slavery in the 19th century still contain similar provisions, including human servitude and prison labor. Nebraska and Utah, represented by Republican senators, were the first two to amend the Constitution on the exact same issue last year thanks to a voter-approved initiative. Only Colorado got there early and removed those words from the ballots in 2018.
Merkley is optimistic that his fellow Republicans will eventually support the bill.
âIt shouldn’t be partisan in this regard,â Merkley said. “I think all Americans should want to end slavery in our constitution.”
Williams also doesn’t want this presented as a partisan issue.
âAs long as you are willing to work with us to make the American Promise fully accessible to everyone in this country, regardless of their background, zip code or bank account, I would love to work with you. ‘I will,’ She said. “This includes ensuring that the Constitution does away with involuntary slavery from the country.”
According to historians, the Thirteenth Amendment arose out of President Abraham Lincoln’s decision that the Emancipation Proclamation was not sufficient to abolish slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the South in 1863, but was not enforced in many places until the end of the Civil War two years later. Confederate soldiers surrendered in April 1865, but the last enslaved black was indescribable until June 19, when Union soldiers announced freedom in Galveston, Texas. .. This day has been dubbed June 16.
Meanwhile, Lincoln proposed a constitutional amendment to completely dismantle the system of slavery. The Senate passed the Thirteenth Amendment in 1864, and the House of Representatives continued into early 1865, just two months before Lincoln’s assassination. The amendment was then ratified by the state.
Constitutional amendments require the approval of two-thirds of the House and Senate and the ratification of three-quarters of the Legislative Assembly. They are also rare.
Tylek of Worth Rises wants other lawmakers to understand that the exception to the ban on slavery is unacceptable.
âIt’s a big stain on our culture, our constitution and our country to say ‘nothing but slavery’,â Tyrek said. “We must be able to say slavery – there are no exceptions.”
Juneteenth spurs relaunch of ‘abolition amendment’ by lawmakers Juneteenth spurs relaunch of ‘abolition amendment’ by lawmakers