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Slavery

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.

African And Indigenous Peoples: An Alliance For Defense, Survival And Revolution

Yet again a holiday for mass delusion about “Pilgrims and Indians” looms. It is a day when practically nobody seated around tables piled high with big dead birds and assorted platters of carbohydrates gives even a passing thought to Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop’s 1637 journal entry calling for “…a day of thanksgiving kept in all the churches for our victories against the Pequots.” Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford provided a detailed account of the so-called victories over an estimated 700 members of an indigenous community: “Those that scraped the fire were [slain] with the sword; some hewed to [pieces], others [run] [through] with their rapiers, so as they were quickly [dispatched], and very few [escaped]…It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the [fire], and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the [stink] and [scent] thereof, but the victory seemed a [sweet] sacrifice...

Slavery Was On The Ballot In The US Midterms

As children in the US learn in schools, slavery was abolished over 150 years ago during the nation’s Civil War in 1863. And yet, on the November 8 2022 midterm elections, five states, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Louisiana, and Alabama, voted on ballot measures that would end slavery in those states. How is the US still be contending with slavery in 2022? The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery. However, it contained a powerful exception—slavery would be legal as punishment for a crime. As a result, hundreds of thousands of prison workers are held in involuntary servitude, often unpaid and always below minimum wage. Tennessee, Vermont, and Alabama voted yes on ballot measures that would end all exceptions to involuntary, forced, and unpaid labor within prisons within their respective state constitutions.

Caribbean Activists Turn Up The Volume For Reparations

Demands for reparations are growing across the Caribbean, following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. The British monarchy have come under heightened demands from several Caribbean countries to undergo the reparatory justice process and issue an apology for their part in the slave trade. It comes after Royal tours of the Caribbean earlier this year led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, followed by Prince Edward and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex were bundled by photo-ops disaster and tone deaf gifts. Niambi Hall-Campbell, Chair of the Bahamas National Reparations Committee, said: “As the role of the monarchy changes, we expect this can be an opportunity to advance discussions of reparations for our region.”

Nicaragua’s Remarks At Reparations International Conference

The Transatlantic Trade of Enslaved Africans was a perverse industry fueled by the cruel ambitions of governments, companies and individuals, who for the most part, still refuse to make reparations for the terrible damage inflicted upon the African Continent, on more than 20 million human beings, who for more than 400 years were victims of this scourge, as well as upon all of us, the more than 200 million Afrodescendants, who currently live in the Americas. This blatant crime against humanity was an industry, given its motivation were supply and demand, profit maximization and cost efficiency. Slavery constitutes the most brutal version of capitalism, dehumanizing human beings, legally modifying the status of an individual, to categorize him or her as an object and property of another individual or group of individuals.

‘Mothers Of Gynecology’ Monument Exposes Horrors Of Slavery

A righteous tidal wave of anger followed people seeing the nine-minutes-plus videotaped police lynching of George Floyd in Minneapolis late May 2020. Racist monuments glorifying the slave-owning Confederacy came tumbling down, especially in the Deep South. These acts to take down the statues were part of historic mass protests that swept the country during the summer of 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years earlier the monument paying homage to J. Marion Sims, once praised as the “father of modern gynecology,” was removed from Central Park in New York City, following many years of protest. What led to the removal was a growing understanding and anger that Sims, a 19th century gynecologist in Montgomery, Alabama, used enslaved Black women as guinea pigs, experimenting on them with new medical techniques without using anesthesia or obtaining their consent.

The Terrible Origins Of July 4th

The July 4 holiday in the United States commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Anyone educated in this country has been propagandized with lies about patriotic colonists seeking freedom from a tyrannical British monarch. Our minds were filled with tales of Paul Revere and Betsy Ross which erase the role that indigenous and Black people played as they attempted to end true tyranny over their lives. The present day traditions of enjoying cookouts, vacations, and fireworks should not obscure the true meaning of this date.
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