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Heartstrings

(7,349 posts)
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 01:24 AM Jun 2020

I never learned about this in American History class.

In 1866, one year after the 13 Amendment was ratified (the amendment that ended slavery), Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina began to lease out convicts for labor (peonage). This made the business of arresting Blacks very lucrative, which is why hundreds of White men were hired by these states as police officers. Their primary responsibility was to search out and arrest Blacks who were in violation of Black Codes. Once arrested, these men, women and children would be leased to plantations where they would harvest cotton, tobacco, sugar cane. Or they would be leased to work at coal mines, or railroad companies. The owners of these businesses would pay the state for every prisoner who worked for them; prison labor.

It is believed that after the passing of the 13th Amendment, more than 800,000 Blacks were part of the system of peonage, or re-enslavement through the prison system. Peonage didn’t end until after World War II began, around 1940.

This is how it happened.

The 13th Amendment declared that "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." (Ratified in 1865)

Did you catch that? It says, “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude could occur except as a punishment for a crime". Lawmakers used this phrase to make petty offenses crimes. When Blacks were found guilty of committing these crimes, they were imprisoned and then leased out to the same businesses that lost slaves after the passing of the 13th Amendment. This system of convict labor is called peonage.

The majority of White Southern farmers and business owners hated the 13th Amendment because it took away slave labor. As a way to appease them, the federal government turned a blind eye when southern states used this clause in the 13th Amendment to establish laws called Black Codes. Here are some examples of Black Codes:

In Louisiana, it was illegal for a Black man to preach to Black congregations without special permission in writing from the president of the police. If caught, he could be arrested and fined. If he could not pay the fines, which were unbelievably high, he would be forced to work for an individual, or go to jail or prison where he would work until his debt was paid off.

If a Black person did not have a job, he or she could be arrested and imprisoned on the charge of vagrancy or loitering.

This next Black Code will make you cringe. In South Carolina, if the parent of a Black child was considered vagrant, the judicial system allowed the police and/or other government agencies to “apprentice” the child to an "employer". Males could be held until the age of 21, and females could be held until they were 18. Their owner had the legal right to inflict punishment on the child for disobedience, and to recapture them if they ran away.

This (peonage) is an example of systemic racism - Racism established and perpetuated by government systems. Slavery was made legal by the U.S. Government. Segregation, Black Codes, Jim Crow and peonage were all made legal by the government, and upheld by the judicial system. These acts of racism were built into the system, which is where the term “Systemic Racism” is derived.

This is the part of "Black History" that most of us were never told about.


Unknown source on Facebook....

61 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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I never learned about this in American History class. (Original Post) Heartstrings Jun 2020 OP
That was the subject of the documentary "13th" Caliman73 Jun 2020 #1
Thank you! Heartstrings Jun 2020 #2
I wish everyone KT2000 Jun 2020 #12
Black men in prisons aren't used for forced labor now, but they are making men rich from BComplex Jun 2020 #39
Actually, they are StarfishSaver Jun 2020 #46
Prisoners are still used to do public work, like picking up trash on public Blue_true Jun 2020 #59
Sad post but one every single white person in the US needs to read. PatrickforO Jun 2020 #3
No they didn't! Heartstrings Jun 2020 #4
Well, there was a hell of a lot that was never taught in schools... Moostache Jun 2020 #17
Amen, Moostache. Amen. BComplex Jun 2020 #40
EXcept I learned it in college obamanut2012 Jun 2020 #27
Kick for maximum exposure. Thanks for posting. nt oasis Jun 2020 #5
My pleasure.... Heartstrings Jun 2020 #6
K&R Solly Mack Jun 2020 #7
Thank you, so much. We SHOULD have been taught. I have already passed it on to a friend. Thanks. n/t Judi Lynn Jun 2020 #8
And a number of years ago I remember hearing about how the symbols on contemporary police fierywoman Jun 2020 #9
There's more . . . . . . no_hypocrisy Jun 2020 #10
Thanks for posting! PandoraAwakened Jun 2020 #11
This message was self-deleted by its author pecosbob Jun 2020 #15
Mandatory minimum sentencing...mainly a relic of the recent past, but insidious in its impact... Moostache Jun 2020 #18
Thanks! PandoraAwakened Jun 2020 #53
Yes, the entire war on drugs. Blue_true Jun 2020 #60
If only there were an esteemed psychiatrist someone could ask. N/T lapucelle Jun 2020 #43
... sheshe2 Jun 2020 #44
... lapucelle Jun 2020 #45
Yup. sheshe2 Jun 2020 #49
This message was self-deleted by its author PandoraAwakened Jun 2020 #55
I feel stupid MH1 Jun 2020 #56
Haaaaa! NurseJackie Jun 2020 #52
Post removed Post removed Jun 2020 #54
A couple of friends of mine are (although they might not call themselves "esteemed").... George II Jun 2020 #57
Hell, our schools barely talk about slavery, let alone peonage. nt SunSeeker Jun 2020 #13
And the ones that do teach about slavery say how wonderful it was Ilsa Jun 2020 #42
Neither did I...where I did learn about it was in... pecosbob Jun 2020 #14
+1 2naSalit Jun 2020 #33
This also shows one of the reasons why police got in the habit of watching Sloumeau Jun 2020 #16
Look no further than Dylan Roof and Walter Scott as a prime example... Moostache Jun 2020 #19
White people could make more money, not "society". It is a poor utilization of talent & ability Bernardo de La Paz Jun 2020 #24
Bingo!!!!!! Blue_true Jun 2020 #61
K&R for exposure!!!! diva77 Jun 2020 #20
"Slavery by Another Name" by Douglas Blackmon tells the story. Cities like Atlanta and.... EarnestPutz Jun 2020 #21
he won a Pulitzer for it too. TeamPooka Jun 2020 #22
It was only a few yrs ago that I learned slaves built the WH. White owners rented them to govt bobbieinok Jun 2020 #23
That book was heartbreaking. sheshe2 Jun 2020 #47
There is an excellent, Pulitzer Prize -winning book on this topic Tanuki Jun 2020 #25
K&R n/t Kitchari Jun 2020 #26
Shit. That's probably where the pattern began of targeting black people within the limits of the law Baitball Blogger Jun 2020 #28
And these same laws have been used to target protesters who protest for LIBERAL causes, BComplex Jun 2020 #41
K&R Solomon Jun 2020 #29
That system was slavery by another name. BSdetect Jun 2020 #30
This should also underscore the need to abolish PRIVATE prisons! lastlib Jun 2020 #31
Only 8 percent of incarcerated people are held in private prisons. WhiskeyGrinder Jun 2020 #32
The prison system is built on this framework. It's not reformable. WhiskeyGrinder Jun 2020 #34
Still JustGene Jun 2020 #35
Thanks for this important post. panader0 Jun 2020 #36
I had no idea how loaded the word "peon" is. blaze Jun 2020 #37
This is, of course, the origin of the "blacks are criminals" meme struggle4progress Jun 2020 #38
Lately I am learning a lot about what I didn't learn in History class, crickets Jun 2020 #48
You're welcome! Heartstrings Jun 2020 #51
Our prison system is legalized slavery Generic Brad Jun 2020 #50
The history of how Whites as a singular group treated Blacks in America is Blue_true Jun 2020 #58

KT2000

(20,563 posts)
12. I wish everyone
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 02:42 AM
Jun 2020

would watch that. For those who say that they are not responsible for what their forefathers did, slavery, they would understand how there has been a constant undercurrent of methods to keep black people and men especially, second class citizens in this country. Now prisons are being used.
That was an excellent documentary.

BComplex

(8,015 posts)
39. Black men in prisons aren't used for forced labor now, but they are making men rich from
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 03:21 PM
Jun 2020

privatized prisons.

Same shit, different day. Same shit, different method.

 

StarfishSaver

(18,486 posts)
46. Actually, they are
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 08:22 PM
Jun 2020
Prisoners in 17 U.S. states went on strike on Aug. 21 by refusing to eat or work to call attention to a number of troubling issues, including dilapidated facilities, harsh sentences and other aspects of mass incarceration in America.

As we approach Labor Day, the strike places a spotlight on the questionable practice of putting prisoners to work for very low or no wages. Examples of what incarcerated people do or have done include answering customer service phone calls, fighting wildfires, packaging Starbucks coffee and producing consumer goods such as lingerie.
...
The U.S. government has often admonished other countries such as Burma and China for using forced labor to build pipelines or make goods or in times of national emergency. Yet the truth is, it's just as prevalent in the U.S. as elsewhere, with the Department of the Navy and Minnesota among the governmental entities sued for minimum wage violations in prisons.

In fact, a 2004 economic analysis of labor in both state and federal prison estimated that in the previous year inmates produced more than $2 billion worth of commodities, both goods and services.
...
And many private businesses have used prison labor, such as Victoria's Secret, Starbucks and Microsoft.

Even immigrants awaiting deportation proceedings were forced to do janitorial and clerical work for $1 a day at the private detention facilities where they were held, according to recent litigation. Inmates have claimed in lawsuits that they earned as little as 12 cents an hour – or nothing as all, as is legal in some states.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/u-s-prisoners-strike-is-reminder-how-commonplace-inmate-labor-is/

Blue_true

(31,261 posts)
59. Prisoners are still used to do public work, like picking up trash on public
Fri Jun 19, 2020, 08:41 PM
Jun 2020

roads and lawn care on roads, where I live. But the labor is Black, White, Hispanic, anyone that ends up in prison.

I am against prisoner labor because they, by the very essence of it, work for far less than would be paid to a free person, once restitution, "housing" and other insidious "fees" are deducted, some of the people end up working for pennies a day. It all is just a standin for slavery, except race is not totally at the base of it.

PatrickforO

(14,556 posts)
3. Sad post but one every single white person in the US needs to read.
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 01:30 AM
Jun 2020

Because they did not teach us this in high school history, or college for that matter.

Moostache

(9,895 posts)
17. Well, there was a hell of a lot that was never taught in schools...
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 03:22 AM
Jun 2020

Everything that was passed over tended to paint whites in a negative light ... native American genocides? Nah...that was simply the fruits of "manifest destiny"... systemic exploitation of blacks through peonage? no, no, no...that was merely "maintaining the natural order" (so it looks like slavery, sounds like slavery and quacks like slavery, but I SWEAR...its not a duck.

THAT is why I have maintained to many that the "good old days" so many pine for and wanted to "go back to" are not the 1950's...it was the 1850's for them...though they would settle for anything between 1820 and 1880 really.

The murderous, exploitative TRUE history of the United States is quite different from what most people have internalized and believe. The truly terrifying thing to watch is the mental gymnastics required to continue to deny this reality, especially when it comes to the (FAKE) arguments against things like affirmation action or any other attempts at systemic corrections (or even systemic alleviation).

America the place has NEVER lived up to the potential of America the IDEA...and likely never will, but we are dangerously close to the point when we collectively stop TRYING to get better or stop striving to reach higher, correct the sins of the past when possible and build a better tomorrow. The hope of doing so is the last thing holding together this whole experiment in self-rule.

As imperfect and inadequate as it feels at times, there is only ONE party even trying to keep that dream alive today. And it is NOT the one in charge of stacking the courts through a captive Senate or the one actively blowing the response to the moment from the White House. I firmly believe that to my very core, but the first rule of holes is when you're in one, the first step is STOP DIGGING, and the only way for us to move forward is to really confront reality and accept that America was never "great" in the first place and in fact, its been down right evil quite often...

obamanut2012

(26,027 posts)
27. EXcept I learned it in college
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 07:57 AM
Jun 2020

In both a lit class and more than one history class. I'm a Gen Xer, s o this wasn't recent.

fierywoman

(7,658 posts)
9. And a number of years ago I remember hearing about how the symbols on contemporary police
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 01:53 AM
Jun 2020

uniforms harkens to this era and is abominable. I'm sorry I can't remember the details.

no_hypocrisy

(45,991 posts)
10. There's more . . . . . .
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 02:02 AM
Jun 2020

In the South, if you were black, you had a hard time finding work because of racial discrimination.

So you were home and not working.

There were laws that allowed the police to arrest you FOR BEING HOME AND NOT WORKING. Got that? A crime for being black and being unemployed.

Well, soon you'd be convicted, on a chain gang, and . . . . . "working".

PandoraAwakened

(905 posts)
11. Thanks for posting!
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 02:24 AM
Jun 2020

Last edited Fri Jun 19, 2020, 08:35 PM - Edit history (2)

Systemic racism has been an ongoing conversation in our household, in terms of specific examples understandable to youngsters.

One of my kids has asked what current state laws the Black Codes and the Jim Crow Laws have morphed into that keep the systemic racism going. He gets it in terms of police culture, private prisons, voter suppression, etc., all of which we've talked about. His question has more to do with wanting to know specific written laws used today to perpetuate systemic racism.

I know there are a lot of smart DUers. Anybody have any examples in this regard that I can discuss with my son?
Thanks much!

NOTE: I apologize in advance if you end up seeing responses to my question that appear to be irrelevant and make no sense at all to the question posed. Apparently, I am now being stalked for pointing out stalker behavior against a certain young woman of color. Oh, the irony!

Response to PandoraAwakened (Reply #11)

Moostache

(9,895 posts)
18. Mandatory minimum sentencing...mainly a relic of the recent past, but insidious in its impact...
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 03:27 AM
Jun 2020

Discrepancies in sentencing for cocaine possession - especially WEIGHTS for sentencing and the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine and what it led to (or STILL does in some jurisdictions)...

The ENTIRE "war on drugs" has some seriously evil, racist core beliefs and beginnings and that is just for starters...

PandoraAwakened

(905 posts)
53. Thanks!
Fri Jun 19, 2020, 06:02 PM
Jun 2020

Have found a number of good examples going down this road, especially re: crack vs. powder cocaine. Thanks again.

Blue_true

(31,261 posts)
60. Yes, the entire war on drugs.
Fri Jun 19, 2020, 08:51 PM
Jun 2020

In most southern states, possession of pot is a felony. Cops arrest Black peoples caught with pot and mostly let Whites go with a warning. The imbalance feeds the prison revolving door, until recently, companies would not hire a person that had a felony on his record, no job and no way of finding legal living expense money ended up getting people sent back to jail.

Response to sheshe2 (Reply #44)

MH1

(17,573 posts)
56. I feel stupid
Fri Jun 19, 2020, 07:25 PM
Jun 2020

I didn't get the remark, but apparently you did.

If you can't post it here maybe you can message me. I'm just curious.

Response to lapucelle (Reply #43)

George II

(67,782 posts)
57. A couple of friends of mine are (although they might not call themselves "esteemed")....
Fri Jun 19, 2020, 08:04 PM
Jun 2020

I'd ask them about this but they probably have more important things to do.

Ilsa

(61,687 posts)
42. And the ones that do teach about slavery say how wonderful it was
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 03:38 PM
Jun 2020

for the slaves to be taken care of so well, because why would a slave owner hurt his property?

pecosbob

(7,531 posts)
14. Neither did I...where I did learn about it was in...
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 02:51 AM
Jun 2020

Howard Zinn's "A Peoples' History of the United States." If any have not read it, do so promptly.

Sloumeau

(2,657 posts)
16. This also shows one of the reasons why police got in the habit of watching
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 03:17 AM
Jun 2020

black people to see if they were committing crimes. It also shows one of the reasons that the courts got in the habit of handing out harsher sentences to black people than white people. Society could "make money" by handing out harsher sentences to Black people.

Moostache

(9,895 posts)
19. Look no further than Dylan Roof and Walter Scott as a prime example...
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 03:33 AM
Jun 2020

Really there are hundreds, if not thousands of examples that make this discrepancy in approach to policing black men and white men. The murder of Mr. Scott - while actively FLEEING for his life - sticks with me, but so too does Laquan McDonald, and George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks and too many more known and unknown...

Or look to the Michigan "protests" in April with armed white men SCREAMING in the faces of police and drawing no response, but peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square being tear gassed and herded out of the area by men on horses- and DO NOT MISS THE SYMBOLISM OF THAT EITHER (it was entirely mean to evoke the image of running down and capturing runaway slaves to a specific segment of the population.

When a white multi-murderer is quietly caught, arrested and offered fucking food, while an unarmed black man is killed in the parking lot of a similar fast food establishment, only the willfully blind cannot see it for what it is - a systemic issue that cannot be solved without systemic changes.

Bernardo de La Paz

(48,925 posts)
24. White people could make more money, not "society". It is a poor utilization of talent & ability
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 06:48 AM
Jun 2020

... to keep a whole class of people under-employed, under-skilled, and under-educated.

Same thing Republicons seek to do today, more subtly, by under-investing in people. Just as short-sighted and foolish in global competition.

Blue_true

(31,261 posts)
61. Bingo!!!!!!
Fri Jun 19, 2020, 09:24 PM
Jun 2020

I often fantasize about where this country would be in African Americans had been made full remunerated citizens after the 13th, instead of facing every possible obstacle. We would likely be the envy of the world, without any other country having a prayer of ever catching up. Instead, the world watches as we go through repeated cycles of cops shooting down Black people that were no threat, that is after more than a century and a half of Blacks being treated as second class citizens or worse when looking for an education or a good paying job.

EarnestPutz

(2,115 posts)
21. "Slavery by Another Name" by Douglas Blackmon tells the story. Cities like Atlanta and....
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 03:53 AM
Jun 2020

....Charleston have downtown areas with great old brick buildings built by black convict labor. They should be proud.

bobbieinok

(12,858 posts)
23. It was only a few yrs ago that I learned slaves built the WH. White owners rented them to govt
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 04:25 AM
Jun 2020

And I'm 80yo!

It took a long battle to put up plaque commemorating this fact

sheshe2

(83,583 posts)
47. That book was heartbreaking.
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 08:32 PM
Jun 2020

Fact: Slavery never ended until WWI. We still have a form of it today.

Tanuki

(14,909 posts)
25. There is an excellent, Pulitzer Prize -winning book on this topic
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 07:00 AM
Jun 2020
https://www.pulitzer.org/winners/douglas-blackmon



"Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

By Douglas A. Blackmon

Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries, and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of “free” black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery.

The neoslavery system exploited legal loopholes and federal policies that discouraged prosecution of whites for continuing to hold black workers against their wills. As it poured millions of dollars into southern government treasuries, the new slavery also became a key instrument in the terrorization of African Americans seeking full participation in the U.S. political system.

Based on a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Slavery by AnotherName unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude. It also reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the modern companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the system’s final demise in the 1940s, partly due to fears of enemy propaganda about American racial abuse at the beginning of World War II.

Slavery by Another Name is a moving, sobering account of a little-known crime against African Americans, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.

—from the book jacket"



Baitball Blogger

(46,655 posts)
28. Shit. That's probably where the pattern began of targeting black people within the limits of the law
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 07:59 AM
Jun 2020

Our laws never adjusted for the way they would be abused by racists. And by the time we got to Scalia, laws became the choice of preference to continue targeting them.

So much here to justify reparations. So much.

BComplex

(8,015 posts)
41. And these same laws have been used to target protesters who protest for LIBERAL causes,
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 03:27 PM
Jun 2020

while armed militia show up and terrorize state houses with impunity because their cause is conservative.

There has never been a conservative cause that has furthered the welfare of this country...or the world, for that matter.

WhiskeyGrinder

(22,300 posts)
32. Only 8 percent of incarcerated people are held in private prisons.
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 08:45 AM
Jun 2020

Just because your state is running a prison doesn't mean it's not selling the incarcerated people's labor at ridiculous profit.

panader0

(25,816 posts)
36. Thanks for this important post.
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 08:59 AM
Jun 2020

I know I never was taught about peonage, nor was it in any of my history books.
Recommended.

struggle4progress

(118,196 posts)
38. This is, of course, the origin of the "blacks are criminals" meme
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 01:17 PM
Jun 2020

Southerners wanted substitutes for slavery (which had provided an easily-identifiable underclass to exploit)

One substitute was debt-peonage through share-cropping

Another substitute was the convict-for-rent system: arrest blacks for minor infractions ("this hoodlum was riding a bicycle without a bell!" ) and give them long prison terms, then send them from the prisons under contract as cheap labor to businesses and farms. This required a mystifying cover-up, so the justification was: "Blacks are naturally criminal, and that's why you see so many on the chain-gangs, paying their debt to society"

crickets

(25,946 posts)
48. Lately I am learning a lot about what I didn't learn in History class,
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 08:34 PM
Jun 2020

or what I learned only in pieces, obscured by deceptive language and missing details.

Thanks, Heartstrings.

Generic Brad

(14,272 posts)
50. Our prison system is legalized slavery
Thu Jun 18, 2020, 08:38 PM
Jun 2020

The police just feed the system. Corrupt judges and profiteering politicians love our for profit prisons that makes its money off the backs of the incarcerated. Our crime rate keeps going down but our prison population keeps increasing.

Blue_true

(31,261 posts)
58. The history of how Whites as a singular group treated Blacks in America is
Fri Jun 19, 2020, 08:32 PM
Jun 2020

stomach churning. Blacks were systematically fired from paying jobs, regardless of education and competence.

I know growing up, we were psyched to see a Black letter deliverer, because that was a prestige job in our eyes. A Black Doctor, Dentist or Attorney was like a god to us. My early education was in segregated schools, any foreign kid that wasn't Black or part Black got into the better White public schools. I knew three kids that had an active US military father and a Korean mother who attended my school, the interesting thing is that if both parents were Korean, even if they were just arrived immigrants, the kids would have been assigned to the better resourced White schools.

In a way, I am ok with confederate statues, IF the corrosive and sad history of how Black Americans have been treated shows up in history classes, all of it, every single act of systemic racism that was used to hold Black Americans down, air it out and insure that no systemic racism happens during the future.

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