Louisiana’s Constitution Still Has a Legal Exception for Slavery
On January 1st, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which would officially end the practice of making another human being your slave in the United States. Then, on January 31st, 1865, Congress would pass and ratify the 13th amendment to solidify that the USA was done with slavery. Later that year, the American Civil War would finally come to an end.
The hope is that slavery and the mistreatment that comes with it would finally end with that terrible war, but history has shown us otherwise. Although it was no longer legal to own a slave in the U.S., African-Americans would still be brutalized and marginalized in so many ways for many years afterwards.
In 2022, we have a long way to go before we reach racial equality - but we have grown. Today, we have laws and guidelines that are helping us reshape our world to a more inclusive one. Basically, we aren't there yet - but at least we left slavery behind, right? Not so fast.
According to a report from BR Proud, the official Constitution of the State of Louisiana still technically has a legal exception for slavery. The document strictly forbids the practice of slavery except when used as a punishment for a crime. Officials say that although that particular phrase is referring to prison inmates sentenced to hard labor, the wording is extremely problematic.
In order to bring one of the most important parts of our state's government into the 21st century, lawmakers are giving voters the choice to change the official wording on the Constitution. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has signed House Bill 298 into law that will make sure the choice to amend the Constitution goes to the public for a vote.
According to the report, the decision will be made during the November the 8th election. If changed, the new wording would simply read:
Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited.