Many of you know I spend a lot of my time in South Sudan and Sudan covering crimes-against-humanity issues and genocide. Specifically, slavery. When I report on these stories, Americans are surprised but not shocked. After all, “that sort of thing happens in developing countries and in Africa,” is the response I get.
But let’s not get on the self-righteous bandwagon so quickly...
As of this posting, in August 2018, the Colorado constitution states: “There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude EXCEPT as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
This language is an exact copy of Amendment 13 of the United States Constitution, adopted at the end of the Civil War.
The language excepting persons convicted of a crime was placed in the Constitution as an accommodation to the former slave-holding states. Former slaves were often charged and quickly convicted of minor “crimes” like loitering. Once convicted, local law enforcement would contract-out the prisoners to former slave-holders to work on their plantations.
On August 28, 1963 more than 250,000 people packed on to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Civil Rights movement had reached an apex. Demonstrators from all walks of life ~ black and white ~ listened to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. give his most moving speech. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’’
On August 28, 2018 a movement to abolish slavery in Colorado kicked off at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in Denver City Park. More than 100 people gathered at the foot of the King statue to renounce the language in the Colorado Constitution. “Abolish Slavery in Colorado” has gathered enough support to put Amendment A on the ballot for the November 6th election.
(Missed the rally? Log in to Facebook and watch here: https://www.facebook.com/tamarabanks.yourtazmedia/videos/10155814576921527/)
Lee McNeil, chair of the Social Justice Ministry at Shorter Community AME Church said, “the Colorado Constitution, today, includes, ancient, painful, and immoral language that allows for slavery and involuntary servitude.”
State law makers said in 2016 the measure to abolish slavery and eradicate the language in the constitution narrowly lost largely due to the confusing language on the ballot.
They promise this year the language and intention are clear: Abolish slavery in Colorado.
I say, Amen to the promise and VOTE YES TO “AMENDMENT A” THIS NOVEMBER 6!