Amend the Thirteenth

Now is the time to undo all that we can undo concerning systemic racism including statues, street names, policies and, yes, the language of the United States Constitution. Senator Ronald Rice and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight have sponsored bill ACR 145 which, in the spirit of equity and socio-economic justice, proposes to add language to our state constitution, permanently abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude including as punishment for a crime. Being this is a state constitutional amendment, the measure would hit the ballot in November of this year. 


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Grassroots efforts are in full force, over 50 National, State and local organizations currently signed on.  Hoboken, Jersey City, and Roselle have passed resolutions standing with ACR 145, its imperative that the City of Paterson joins the stand today.  

In the fight for social and economic justice in New Jersey, it is understood that we must address these problems from the root. The entire premise of dehumanization through systemic racism was embedded into the 13th Amendment in 1865, by legalizing slavery under the premise of criminalization. Criminalization as the justification to remove human and civil rights, disproportionately for people of color who are overrepresented in all points of contact with the justice system, which once removed are replaced with "prisoner's rights''. Prisoners are still humans who should not be stripped of human or civil rights.

In our state and our nation, criminalization is a legal loophole to enslave human beings, and in 2020, there should be no language reflecting any legality to slavery, especially since slavery is internationally banned in ALL of its forms. This is a human rights issue.

Mass incarceration is a serious social ill that plagues our communities. The United States is 5% of the world's population, yet 25% of the world's inmates.  (For more information watch Ava Duvernay's Award Winning "The 13th on Netflix and Youtube).

In 1866 New Jersey was the last state in the Union to ratify the 13th Amendment, however, it did not write it into the constitution. Abolitionists and activists have formalized a national movement for states to assist each other in addressing this issue through  state constitutional languages. Colorado is taking the lead with "Abolish Slavery National Network" being they were successful in amending their state constitution in November of 2018.

Currently, Utah, Nebraska, and Tennessee have measures on their ballots to vote. New Jersey is joining their ranks thanks to Senator Ronald Rice and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight



This is the moment for all organizations to stand with justice, human rights, and social reform in our country and to take a stand to PERMANENTLY end slavery and involuntary servitude.  The Paterson City Council can, like our neighboring cities, vote unanimously to support the resolution in solidarity with ACR 145. 

Think globally and act locally.


Thank you to Dennis Febo who contributed greatly to my knowledge of this cause and to the writing of this article.



Kapernick’s kneeling in protest is not performance.

Some kneelings are a performance because, you know.

Renaming ourselves in honor of our foremothers and fathers is not performance.

Some streets being renamed is a performance because, um, you know.

Showing up to stand with like-minded Americans in protest is not performance.

Showing up to be photographed with protestors is a performance because, um, well, you know.

A Bill that ends the legal possibility of slavery in our country and state is not a performance.

Wearing a tee shirt and posting a photo of yourself in said TEE. SHIRT. is a performance because, um, well, you know. YOU. KNOW.

Addressing the exact systemic racist policy that you want to see changed with your legislative body is not a performance. 

Demanding, to no one in particular, that something vague changes is a performance, um, well you know. YOU. KNOW.

And, family, knowing what you know is not enough. You must DO something, anything, that is not a performance because, you know.