Mary Beth Writes

13th Amendment - ratified in 1865

Section 1. 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.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

14th Amendment - ratified 1868

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

(Sections 2 and 3 and 4 are about how the law will regard people who were elected representatives of, and debt incurred by the Confederacy)

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

15th Amendment - ratified 1870

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

I said last week I would write about the 15th Amendment. Except … I am haviing a hard time concentrating. I keep checking Twitter to see what’s happening now. I assume many of you are likewise distracted and occupied. So let me write this fast and short and you read it likewise. 

I’ve been listening for years to the podcast In The Past Zone. Edward T. O’Donnell is a history professor who is also firmly rooted in contemporary issues and how we got here. He offers 10-20 minute historical lectures that generally bounces off the news.  He’s easy to listen to plus he has a great sense of irony and humor.  His website. http://inthepastlane.com/

Everything I am saying today is sourced pretty directly from http://inthepastlane.com/episode-187/  You can either listen to it or scroll into the URL and read his short lecture. 

The 15th Amendment was third and final of the Reconstruction Amendments. It mandates that all African Americans including all formerly enslaved men (not women) are allowed to vote. Period. 

From 1868 until 1872, 700,000 Black men would register to vote; 600 formerly enslaved men would win state and federal elections. More would serve in local offices. Between 1869 and 1901 twenty-two African Americans would serve in the U.S. Congress (twenty in the House, and two in the Senate).

This amazing enfranchisement of former slaves into government happened because of these constitutional amendments (there had not been a new amendment to the constitution in 60 years). And also, because federal authority was “on the ground” to protect civil rights. 

Also, Congress passed Force Acts that compelled the federal government to use its power and authority to defeat groups like the KKK. The federal government succeeded in crushing these violent groups throughout the South in the years after the War was ended.

So long as the federal government remained committed to upholding civil rights, the achievements of Reconstruction worked. However, this commitment began to waver and eventually disappear after 1872.

This happened because 1.) The Grant administration was wading through scandals involving high ranking officials. 2.) The Panic of 1873 touched off five years of severe economic depression. 3.) Conservatives argued that the federal government had done enough and that it was time for African Americans to take care of themselves. So the Force Acts fighting KKK etc. was no longer supported.

Violence reared its head as soon as federal enforcement left the scene. In Mississippi in 1875 armed whites allied with the Democratic Party to build a campaign of terrorism that came to be known as the Mississippi Plan. Through threats, beatings, and killings, they delivered the unambiguous message: blacks and their white allies who dared vote Republican risked their lives and livelihoods.

Alarmed, Mississippi governor Adelbert Ames asked the Grant administration to send troops to keep the peace and protect the polls. His request was rejected.

So, next election, more than sixty thousand black, Republican Mississippi voters stayed away from the polls on election day. When fifteen hundred African Americans gathered to vote in Aberdeen, Mississippi, they were informed by the mob that “if they did not leave town within five minutes … the last man would be shot dead.”

Jim Crow was alive and Black Americans would not get their vote back until the 1960’s. Laws and amendments that are not enforced are not worth the paper they are printed on.

This disenfranchisement is going on right now. Republicans who oppose mail-in voting in a time of pandemic are still working on the Mississippi plan. It’s all about enforcement versus intimidation.

Len and I are not going to protests. We are not young, and our health is great except for when it’s not. 

We ARE giving money to efforts we see that work to safeguard the rights of African Americans and then the rest of us.  In case this helps your mental health, consider donating $5 here and $5 there when you are on social media and your heart and head hurts.  It helps others and it helps us.

 

 

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Quarantine Diary #118 7/10/2020 The thing that we don't want that we have.

This week I requested books from the library, picked them up, walked back home, and started reading.

One book is a lawyer/detective book that is 850 pages long. It’s a great read in that American gum-cracking, fast-talking, everyone has an angle kind of way. I was 150 pages in before I accepted I don’t even like gum and I quit it.

Next I started The Women of Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell.  

Quarantine Diary #112 7/3/2020 The View From Here, Now

I just checked the comments on my website. I get a few wacko ones most days that are in Greek or Russian, or are porno invites. I delete them. Part of the shtick when running a website outside the hosted sites.

And here, right here on a Friday evening, is this good comment from one of you, 

Quarantine Diary #108 6/30/2020 Woke Neighbors

I was quietly sitting here, just writing, when I heard yelling. I looked up and there was Modern America Right Here Right Now, in front of my house.

Cops had a car pulled over and were yelling at someone to come out. A black man with dreadlocks got out, hands in air, protesting and arguing to the cops. I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, but he was arguing respectfully. I heard his “Sir” several times. He was not swearing that I could hear.

Quarantine Diary #104 6/26/2020 Common Sense

This very small story has been lurking in my mind for decades and I have been thinking about it again, just recently.

One afternoon I overheard my dad complaining to my mom about schoolteachers. I suppose they were having a busy week in the print shop when a teacher from the high school dropped off, late in the day, a print job that needed to be completed in less time than was convenient. I’m guessing it was the school newspaper.

Quarantine Diary #101 6/23/2020 Today the Protest Came to Us

I keep saying Len and I are not going to protests because of Covid.

But then one came to us.

Late yesterday afternoon we heard that Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos would be at a meeting this morning at Saratoga STEM school here in Waukesha. It's three blocks from our house. 

The meeting was to talk about school choice. School choice is when you take taxpayer education funds away from local schools, change neighborhood schools into “choice schools” that will attract kids from outside that neighborhood and then you underfund the neighborhood school that's left.

Quarantine Diary #99 6/20/2020 "A bonfire of small changes ..."

This evening Trump is speaking to a political rally in a Tulsa venue that can hold 19,000 people. There will be no social distancing. The place is enclosed. Masks are optional. Boggles the mind.

Yesterday morning I went to a local Stein’s garden mecca to see if they have marigolds on sale yet. They don’t even have marigolds NOT on sale!

But this happened.

I wore a mask. There were only about six other people shopping while I was there and they were all masked, too. The clerk, working outside in that 85-degrees of drenching humidity, was also wearing a mask.

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