THE RELIGION CORNER: The 13th Amendment and Impact of Incarceration

Join Former Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas Jr. at the African American Civil War Museum with a panel of speakers, as they watch Ava Duvernay’s film “13.”
The Breaking Chains Panel and “13” preview is being held in celebration of the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, Jan. 16 from 4 p.m.-6 p.m.

Special emphasis will be placed on the impact of incarceration on our community as the panel discusses voter disenfranchisement and its social impacts.

Joining moderator Thomas are panelists, Roach Brown, Natasha Dasher and Frank Smith, founding director of the museum, located at 1925 Vermont Avenue NW in D.C.
A column by New York Daily News’s Shaun King, titled “How the 13th Amendment didn’t really abolish slavery, but let it live on in U.S. prisons,” gets right to the problem that still exists to this day!

The article shared how it is hard for us to accept that this amendment goes against everything we were ever taught about the history of this country. We have been duped. The history has taken place over the past 150 years.

The 13th Amendment reads, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Scripture reminds us this way: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

The 13th Amendment did not end slavery. It was not abolished once and for all, as we were taught, rather given the constitutional protection that has maintained the practice of American slavery in various forms to this very day.

It is why the American prison population is the largest in the world! Men and women inside of those prisons are effectively slaves, working for free or next to nothing, generating a $2 billion a year industry that employs nearly 900,000 prisoners while paying them a few cents an hour, and often, nothing at all.

In addition to work for private companies, prisoners also cook, clean, and work on maintenance and construction in the prisons themselves — forcing officials to pay staff to carry out those tasks in response to work stoppages. We must demand the end to prison slavery by ceasing to be slaves.

This nation was literally and figuratively built on the backs of hundreds of years of free labor. After the Civil War, which was the bloodiest war in this nation’s history and cost the country as many as 750,000 lives in combat, the Emancipation Proclamation effectively freed over 3 million enslaved men, women and children from forced plantation bondage.

Following that, the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1865 to end the institution of slavery as we knew it, but it fell far short of offering the nation a full, complete and true ban of the practice of slavery. Instead, the institution shape-shifted and morphed in peculiar ways — still primarily on black backs, but inside of less offensive systems and structures which made it a much more complicated and nebulous target.

Forty-seven words. The entire 13th Amendment, one of the most well-known of our entire Constitution, is just 47 words long. Those words aren’t about ending slavery, but are shockingly about how and when slavery could receive a wink and a nod to continue.

It is with this in mind that you are invited to attend this celebration. Join Harry Thomas Jr. and Frank Smith for your MLK holiday, and support this new movement for change!

Lyndia Grant is the host of “Think on These Things,” a radio talk show on WYCB-AM, 1340, Fridays at 6 p.m. Contact her at 202-518-3192 or email her at lyndiagrant@gmail.com.

About Lyndia Grant 101 Articles
A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!