Skip to content

Slavery

Tipping Is A Racist Relic

In most of the country, workers in restaurants, bars, nail salons, barber shops, and various other service jobs are paid differently than workers in virtually all other occupations. For these workers, a large portion (in many cases all) of their take-home pay comes from gratuity or “tips” provided directly from the customer. While employers of workers in nearly all other occupations must pay at least the minimum wage, federal and most states’ laws establish a lower “subminimum wage” for tipped workers that effectively passes the responsibility for compensating these workers from their employers to their clientele.

California Moves To Ban Forced Prison Labor

If you’re looking for a rare bit of good news, look no further: California is finally taking steps to abolish slavery from its constitution by banning it in state prisons. On June 27, 2024, the state legislature passed the End Slavery in California Act, teeing up a statewide vote this fall on whether to end forced prison labor in the Golden State. As of now though, California remains among the 16 states that allow the forced servitude of its prisoners. California’s Constitution, like the 13th Amendment, bans involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime. This new amendment would remove that exception, often dubbed the “slavery loophole.”

Frederick Douglass On The Meaning Of July Fourth To The Slave

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us? I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common.

The Problem With Juneteenth

The fact that members of the United States Senate voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a federal holiday proved that the commemoration is of no political value. Turning what was a peoples’ celebration into an occasion for opportunism and window dressing has actually damaged the cause of Black liberation and the understanding of history. On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and issued General Order Three, a declaration that slavery had ended. The fact that this event occurred two months after the Civil War ended took on an understandably mythic quality, including a belief that the news had been deliberately kept from enslaved people, or that the person carrying the message had been killed.

Juneteenth: Embracing The Power Of Awareness And Repair

When President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021, I initially saw it as a symbolic gesture, unable to replace the concrete legislation needed to address the challenges faced by the Black community in America. However, as time passed and I had conversations with my white friends who had no idea about its historical origins, I started realizing the true importance of Juneteenth. It is not just another holiday, but a valuable lesson for America—a chance to confront its past and make amends for ongoing injustices. Juneteenth is a day that marks the liberation of enslaved African Americans in Texas. Can you believe it took more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation for them to learn they were finally free?

Juneteenth: Black Liberation Through Revolutionary Struggle

On June 19, 1865 Major General Gordon Granger and 1,800 Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, nearly two months after General Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy surrendered in the decisive battle of Appomattox, to announce that slavery finally ended with the issuing of General Order Number 3. This order stated: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” This declaration claimed that there would be “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”

Prisoners, Unions Sue Alabama, Alleging ‘Modern-Day Slavery’

A group of current and former prisoners have sued the state of Alabama with the support of two unions who have signed on as co-plaintiffs, the Union of Southern Service Workers, and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The lawsuit claims that Alabama’s system of prison labor amounts to a “modern-day form of slavery” that generates massive profits for private businesses and revenues for the state by forcing incarcerated people to work for little or no pay. Jacob Morrison and Adam Keller join Rattling the Bars to discuss the lawsuit and the importance of the fight for prisoners’ rights to the overall labor movement.

Prisoners Are A Hidden Workforce Linked To Popular Food Brands

Angola, LA - A hidden path to America’s dinner tables begins here, at an unlikely source – a former Southern slave plantation that is now the country’s largest maximum-security prison. Unmarked trucks packed with prison-raised cattle roll out of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where men are sentenced to hard labor and forced to work, for pennies an hour or sometimes nothing at all. After rumbling down a country road to an auction house, the cows are bought by a local rancher and then followed by The Associated Press another 600 miles to a Texas slaughterhouse that feeds into the supply chains of giants like McDonald’s, Walmart and Cargill.

Missing Links In Textbook History: Colonialism

In 1958 I learned that the British established colonies in Eastern North America. I was in 5th grade. In trying to recall how and what names, dates and locations were taught, it proves to be a jumble. But I remember that a lot happened in the early 17th century, including the founding of most of those British colonies. I remember being told about Pilgrims and their struggle for religious freedom. I also remember learning that there were Indigenous tribes living in the areas colonized, but the clear implication was that a lot of the land was vacant. I remember learning about indentured servants, but I don’t remember learning anything about the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in 1619.

The 13th Amendment Legalizes Slavery; Many States Have Their Own Version

The 13th Amendment of the US Constitution makes an exception to the abolition of slavery in order to permit the use of “involuntary servitude” as punishment for a crime. The modern system of mass incarceration depends on this exception to justify paying millions of incarcerated people subminimum wages that many advocates say is virtually indistinguishable from forms of slavery. Various US states also have their own constitutional “exception clauses” that mirror the language of the 13th Amendment, providing an additional layer of legal justification for the exploitation of prisoners.

Letter From The Haitian People To African Countries

Honorable Heads of State and Government of the sister countries of Africa: We, the undersigned Haitian organizations, have been astonished to receive the surprising news that a sister country, Kenya, has agreed to send troops to Haiti to serve in a US-UN occupying force disguised by the label “multinational force” to continue to deceive international public opinion by concealing the Machiavellian nature of this criminal initiative. In order to prepare national and international public opinion to accept this felony, they have mobilized armed bands on a national scale to create absolute chaos and thus justify the US-UN occupation of our country.

Virtual Slave Labor In Congo’s Cobalt Mines

Maurice, you and I have talked many times for Black Agenda Report about the wartorn northeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), North and South Kivu and Ituri. We’ve talked about the Rwandan and Ugandan military aggressors, but in the southeastern provinces—which were once a single province called Katanga—there’s a different, equally horrific kind of violence going on in the vast cobalt mines that we haven’t talked about here. That’s the violence against hundreds of thousands of artisanal miners living in the most horrific conditions, the equivalent of slavery except that they can't be bought and sold.

What To The Exploited Working Class And Poor In A Capitalist Dictatorship Is The Fourth Of July?

Here’s a little Fourth of July Critical Race and Labor History for you: On July 2, 1777 , Vermont became the first colony to abolish slavery when it ratified its first constitution and became a sovereign country, a status it maintained until its admittance to the union in 1791 as the 14th state in the United States. However, Harvey Amani Whitfield , author of The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777-1810, writes that slavery in Vermont was gradually phased out over a period of multiple decades. Additionally, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) staff write in “Vermont 1777: Early Steps Against Slavery ” that even though “Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut abolitionists achieved laudable goals, each state created legal strictures making it difficult for ‘free’ blacks to find work, own property or even remain in the state” and that Vermont’s 1777 constitution’s “wording was vague enough to let Vermont’s already-established slavery practices continue.”

Frederick Douglass On The Meaning Of July 4th To The Slave

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us? I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.

Chris Hedges: Harriet Tubman And The Battle For America’s Symbols

The debate over America’s symbols and monuments has sharpened with the growing mass movement for racial justice in the past decade. The lionization of slave-owners and genocidaires has been pointed out by many as in contradiction to the ideals of democracy and racial justice so often touted as national core values. In the midst of this debate, the decision by the US Treasury to place Harriet Tubman alongside Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill starting in 2030 has incited controversy. Howard University professor of political science Clarence Lusane joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss the Harriet Tubman dollar bill, and the stakes of the debate over national symbols in righting the historical wrongs of slavery and white supremacy.
Sign Up To Our Daily Digest

Independent media outlets are being suppressed and dropped by corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our daily email digest before it’s too late so you don’t miss the latest movement news.