This year marks the anniversary of the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery in the United States and their jurisdictions. The Thirteenth Amendment states, “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.” (ourdocuments.gov) The Thirteenth Amendment closes the door on the hundreds of years of traditional slavery and involuntary servitude, but kicks the door wide-open for modern day slavery.
The amendment passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, the House on January 31, 1865 and President Abraham Lincoln’s approval of the Joint Resolution of Congress and the submission of the proposed amendment to the legislature on February 1, 1865. It took almost an entire year to gain the necessary number of states to ratify the Amendment. Finally, on December 6, 1865 the Amendment was ratified.
The Thirteenth Amendment was passed at the end of the Civil War prior to the readmission of the southern states into the union. Despite this, the northern states could not agree on ending slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment passed easily in the Senate however the House did not agree until the Amendment was added to the Republican Presidential platform. (ourdocuments.gov 2015)
President Abraham Lincoln never saw the final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and a confederate supporter shot and killed President Lincoln in Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C. as he sat watching, the play, Our American Cousin. (Candela 2015)
Although this year we celebrate 150 years of the abolition of slavery for a vast number of African Americans and their ancestors, the Thirteenth Amendment still allows for slavery to exist for many African Americans today. Modern day slavery exists in the United States where people of color are incarcerated unfairly and often on false charges and given long prison sentences by the legal system approved in the Thirteenth Amendment. (ourdocuments.gov) Slavery schemes such as Kids for Cash, one of the most notorious children’s prison systems in Pennsylvania with one of the largest number of children slave systems today. (DemocracyNow 2014)
Some companies who have benefitted and continue to benefit from the modern day prison slavery system of African American men and women are: Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Sprint, Lehman Brothers, Aetna, Inc., JP Morgan Chase, New York Life, Fleet Boston, Canadian National Railway Company, Brown Brothers Harriman, Barclays, AIG, IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Target, Revlon Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, Pierre Cardin, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Nordstrom’s, Intel, TWA, Compaq, Dell and many, many more (AtlantaBlackStar 2015; Alternet 2015)