The popular Muskegon Community College series “And Justice for All…” continues on Thursday, Nov. 3 with a compelling look at the 13th Amendment.
“The 13th Amendment: From Shackles to Prison Bars?” will involve an open discussion of the recent Netflix documentary “13th” by Ava DuVernay and the deleterious legacy of that Constitutional amendment upon African-Americans. The event, which runs from 6-8 p.m. in Stevenson Center Room 1100, is free and the public is strongly encouraged to attend.
Michelle Loyd-Paige, the Executive Associate to the President for Diversity and Inclusion at Calvin College, will be the guest contributor and MCC faculty member Gretchen Cline will serve as facilitator. A question-and-answer period will be included.
The 13th constitutional amendment was ratified in 1865 and stated: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
The documentary “13th,” which debuted Oct. 7 on Netflix, argues that the “loophole” of allowing punishment for crime and, in particularly, forced labor for criminals, empowered white society to imprison black citizens on minor charges and put them to work.
In her commentary on the film for Fortune, Pamela Kruger wrote: “Since then, the film argues, a variety of measures—from Jim Crow laws to President Richard Nixon’s ‘war on drugs’ and President Bill Clinton’s ‘three-strikes-you’re-out’ legislation—have served to send increasingly large numbers of black men in prison, and several legal scholars and activists interviewed on camera suggest a profit motive at work, as well as racism. Corporations have reaped profits off the privatization of prisons and prison labor; some prisoners have gotten paid as little as 12 cents an hour, doing work for corporations, like Victoria’s Secret and Walmart.
“The film charts the explosive growth in America’s prison population; in 1970, there were about 200,000 prisoners; today, the prison population is more than 2 million. Although the U.S. has just 5% of the world’s population, it has about 25% of the world’s prisoners, and about one in three prisoners are black men. More than 60% of the people in U.S prisons are people of color.”
For more information on the “And Justice for All…” series, call the Office of the Vice President for Student Services and Administration at (231) 777-0266.