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Picture of JULIETTE LOW FLEURY
Slavery by Another Name Forum Post
by JULIETTE LOW FLEURY - Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 07:33 PM
 

The author of slavery by another name argues that during the period following the civil war and all the way up until World War 1, the US was engaging in acts of slavery but writing it off as someting else. Convict leasing, according to Douglas A. Blackmon (and the writers of the documentary) was slavery as well because people were still being held against their will and forced to do labor that they were not compensated for. The thirteenth Amendment legally freed all blacks from slavery, but it did not bar slavery completely. The thirteenth Amendment clearly states that if a person is a convict, they can be forced to labor for the extent of their prison service.  To this day, the amendment has not been changed, however, the labors performed by prisoners in the 1880s and the labor performed by prisoners now are drastically different. Convict leasing in the US began as early as 1718, when people were shipped to the US to be laborers from Britain. During the period of time before the south was separated into military districts, some states established Black Codes, which were laws that limited the rights of the newly freed men, it convict leasing resurfaced as a way to put former slaves back in their place whilst still abiding by the law. Blacks could be convicted for larceny, vagrancy, and loitering. Those convicted could lawfully be forced to do labor, as stated by the thirteenth amendment. The arrest rate of blacks skyrocketed when the court systems realized that they could make money off of selling the labor of blacks to different industries. Once a man was convicted, his time could be bought by anyone who had enough money to rent him. This was in some ways more dangerous than slavery, because the people who rented laborers did not place any value on the lives of these convicts. If a slave were to die, a person would lose all the money that had been invested in him, but if a convict died, the only punishment was the loss of the money that was paid for a month of their service, which meant these people were even more expoited and abused than they or their ancestors hd been during slavery. A major component of this documentary had to do with showing that the government did very little to stop this, which seems to be an overarching theme in the way the US has dealt with issues involving race. The county governments did not protect African Americans at all, infact, they deliberately arrested more people in order to gain more money from mining companies and other people in need of laborers. Looking back at county arrest records, there were surges in arrests right before men came into town to collect laborers, or heads of mining companies showed up. The documentary goes as far as to say that slavery did not end until the private companies stopped being able to least criminals, in the late 1920s and early 1930s.