NAACP Culpeper #7058

Also Serving Madison and Rappahannock Counties

Category: History (Page 1 of 2)

The Fourteenth Amendment

Today is the anniversary of the day in 1868 that Americans changed the U.S. Constitution for the fourteenth time, giving the federal government power to guarantee that state governments could not pass laws that treated some people worse than others.

The background to this constitutional amendment was that in the wake of the Civil War, former Confederates in the southern states had done their best to force their Black neighbors back into subservience. Through a series of laws known collectively as the “Black Codes,” state legislators in summer 1865 regulated how Black Americans worked, lived, worshiped, and conducted themselves, without any recourse to the law for protection when they were robbed, assaulted, raped, and killed.

The Black Codes, sometimes called Black Laws, were laws governing the conduct of African Americans (free and freed blacks). In 1832, James Kent wrote that “in most of the United States, there is a distinction in respect to political privileges, between free white persons and free colored persons of African blood; and in no part of the country do the latter, in point of fact, participate equally with the whites, in the exercise of civil and political rights.”[1] Although Black Codes existed before the Civil War and many Northern states had them, it was the Southern U.S. states that codified such laws in everyday practice. The best known of them were passed in 1865 and 1866 by Southern states, after the American Civil War, in order to restrict African Americans’ freedom, and to compel them to work for low or no wages.

But there was no way northern members of Congress were going to permit southern lawmakers, who only months before had been shooting at U.S. soldiers, to discriminate against the very men who had fought to save the United States.

Their solution was the Fourteenth Amendment.

The amendment overturned the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision that, in addition to declaring that Black men were not citizens and did not have the rights of citizens, declared that democracy was created at the state level by those people in a state who were allowed to vote. In 1857, this meant white men, almost exclusively. If those people voted to do something widely unpopular—like adopting human enslavement, for example—they had the right to do so. People like Abraham Lincoln pointed out that such state power would eventually mean that an unpopular minority could take over the national government, forcing their ideas on everyone else, but defenders of states’ rights stood firm.

And so, the Fourteenth Amendment gave the federal government the power to protect individuals even if their state legislatures had passed discriminatory laws. “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,” it said. And then it went on to say that “Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

But the amendment had to be ratified. In the midterm elections of 1866, the driving issue was the election of state legislators who would either pass or reject the Fourteenth Amendment. President Andrew Johnson, who had stepped into the presidency when an actor had murdered President Abraham Lincoln the year before, stood against the amendment and backed throwing power to the state legislatures. His support gave southern terrorists the confidence to attack formerly enslaved people not only in private, but also in deadly public riots that killed as many as 1000 people before the election.

For their part, the Republicans who wanted federal protection of equal rights also turned to the people but appealed to voters’ commitment to the principle of equality before the law. Senator James G. Blaine, Republican of Maine, later recalled, “The one…point…echoed and re-echoed by every speaker…was the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. It was evidently the unalterable determination of the Republicans to make that the leading feature of the campaign…to urge it though the press, to present it on the stump, to proclaim it through every authorized exponent of public opinion.”

Voters sided with the Republicans and the Fourteenth Amendment by a landslide against Johnson and the Black Codes. The Republicans won 143 representatives to Congress to the Democrats’ 49. The Republicans maintained similar control over the state houses.

“The importance…of the political struggle of 1866 cannot be overestimated,” Blaine recalled. “If the contest had ended [differently] the history of the subsequent years would…have been radically different. There would have been no further amendment to the Constitution,” and southern legislators would “sustain all the State laws already passed for the practical re-enslavement” of Black Americans, “with such additional enactments as would have made them cruelly effective…. [T]he result must have been a deplorable degradation of the National character and an ignoble surrender to the enemies of the Union,” who would then direct the government.

The state legislatures ratified the Fourteenth Amendment and added it to the Constitution in 1868, and in 1870 the federal government set out to enforce national equality before the law with the creation of the Department of Justice, whose first job was to bring down the Ku Klux Klan terrorists in the South who were assaulting and murdering their Black neighbors.

In the post–World War II era, the federal government again used the Fourteenth Amendment to protect citizens against discrimination at the state level when the Supreme Court began to use the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment aggressively to apply the protections in the Bill of Rights to the states. The civil rights decisions of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, including the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation in public schools and the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, come from this doctrine. Under it, the federal government took up the mantle of protecting the rights of individual Americans in the states from the whims of state legislatures.

Opponents of these new civil rights protections quickly began to object that such decisions were “legislating from the bench,” rather than permitting state legislatures to make their own laws. They began to call for “originalism,” the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted only as the Framers had intended when they wrote it, an argument that focused on the creation of law at the state level. That theory is now dominant in the Supreme Court. Two weeks ago, on June 24, 2022, it rejected the federal government’s power to protect civil rights in the states, and more than a dozen state legislatures have rushed to outlaw abortion procedures.

Yesterday, Biden reached for the power embodied by the Fourteenth Amendment for the federal government to overrule state laws discriminating against citizens within their borders. But he also echoed the electoral fight to put that amendment in place when he told Americans: “We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law. Your vote can make that a reality. I know it’s frustrating, and it made a lot of people very angry. But the truth is this…. [The] women of America can determine the outcome of this issue.”

Source: July 8, 2022 – by Heather Cox Richardson (substack.com)

NAACP Statement on the Madison County, Virginia School Board

 

 

NAACP Statement on the Madison County, Virginia, School Board

Media Inquiries: secretary@naacpculpeper.org

 

(7.6.22) The NAACP Culpeper Branch #7058, also representing Madison and Rappahannock counties in Virginia, has long prioritized education in our mission to achieve equality and eliminate race-based prejudice. We regularly partner with local schools to provide scholarships and educational resources for students and teachers.

Since February, when the Madison County School Board held its 2022 annual retreat, we have become increasingly concerned with statements and actions by members of the school board. In particular, we note:

  • Recent analysis shows that Black students in Madison County have consistently performed at lower levels than their white peers in reading, writing, and math; and graduated at a lower rate.¹ There have also been numerous incidences of students using racist language and engaging in racially motivated incidents on school buses, in classrooms, and on sports fields. However, at the April school board meeting, board member Charlie Sheads blamed parents for achievement disparities and erroneously stated that “the mission of Black Lives Matter is to destroy the nuclear family.” Members of the school board have repeatedly demonstrated a willful ignorance of history that has deprived many Black Americans of equal opportunities and contributed to disparities in education, including practices and cultural biases that persist to this day.
  • At the February 5th school board retreat, board member Christopher Wingate stated his concern about the school system’s goal of hiring a more diverse workforce, including African American teachers. Appallingly, he expressed caution that this should not hinder the system’s “pursuit of excellence.” Mr. Wingate also stated at the school board retreat that “with equity, there’s a focus on race, and of course we shouldn’t focus on race.”
  • The school board recently proposed extremist policy revisions designed to prevent students in need of affirmation and support, including LGBTQ students and those with abusive or dysfunctional family situations, from receiving counseling and resources. This would potentially endanger students and eliminate the “safety net” and privacy protections that many of our students desperately need. The policies demonstrate a clear mistrust of our educational and counseling workforce.
  • In June, despite protests from educators, parents, and community members, the school board voted to ban several texts from the high school curriculum, including a speech on the Vietnam War by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and an acclaimed letter written by James Baldwin. Board member Christopher Wingate stated that the works did not reflect a “love of country” and patriotism. We would like to address this specifically by quoting Dr. King in 1967:

“Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. There can be no great disappointment where there is no great love.”

The NAACP Culpeper Branch calls upon the Madison County School Board to become more educated about racial and LGBTQ intolerance in our community, our schools, and our nation’s history and to support the efforts of the MCPS administration by:

  • Focusing on creating a safe environment for all students where racism and bigotry are not tolerated, rather than creating undue and unwarranted restrictions on our professional educators and limiting resources for our students.
  • Upholding the language and the true spirit of the board’s 2020 Equity Statement and continuing the work of the Equity Task Force.
  • Committing to closing the school system’s achievement gap and addressing disparities in school discipline, and to teaching accurate and complete history including diverse and competing perspectives that will encourage critical thinking and empower students to succeed.

“No one should have to prove to you that racism exists. If you don’t see it, it’s because you choose not to. And that’s cruel and tragic.”

– Bernice King, CEO, Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

 

¹ Virginia Department of Education

 

 

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Uzziah Harris
President
NAACP Culpeper Branch #7058

NAACP Essay Contest

Winners will be recognized in local media and at the March NAACP meeting, receive gift certificates up to $200, and be invited to attend a special field trip to the NMAAHC in Washington DC.

Email submissions by February 28, 2022, to education@naacpculpeper.org

NAACP Essay Contest

What it Means to Be an Anti-racist Teacher

We have to deconstruct the way that science is taught, the concepts that are included and the concepts that are excluded, because what we’re not talking about is also a problem—those silences in our curriculum are problematic.

Lorena Germán has worked in education for nearly 20 years. As director of pedagogy at EduColor, chair of the National Council of Teachers of English Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English, and co-founder of Multicultural Classroom, she has advocated for culturally sustaining pedagogy and practices. Nearly three years ago, Germán joined together with educators Tricia Ebarvia, Dr. Kim Parker, and Julia E. Torres to form #DisruptTexts, a grassroots movement encouraging K-12 English teachers to rethink their approach to teaching the “classics,” including deciding whether they need to teach them at all. In 2019, she published The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook, a resource to help educators develop anti-racist practices in their ELA classes. And late last year, Germán sat down with then-TT Professional Development Manager Val Brown to discuss the damage white supremacy causes in education—and the uplift inherent in reimagining the process. Their conversation included here, has been edited for length and clarity.

 

What it Means to Be an Anti-racist Teacher

Lorena Germán has worked in education for nearly 20 years. As director of pedagogy at EduColor, chair of the National Council of Teachers of English Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English and co-founder of Multicultural Classroom, she has advocated for culturally sustaining pedagogy and practices.

How COVID-19 Hollowed Out a Generation of Young Black Men

While COVID-19 has killed 1 out of every 800 African Americans, a toll that overwhelms the imagination, even more stunning is the deadly efficiency with which it has targeted young Black men like Bates. One study using data through July found that Black people ages 35 to 44 were dying at nine times the rate of white people the same age, though the gap slightly narrowed later in the year. And in an analysis for ProPublica this summer using the only reliable data at the time accounting for age, race and gender, from Michigan and Georgia, Harvard researcher Tamara Rushovich found that the disparity was greatest in Black men.

They were pillars of their communities and families, and they are not replaceable. To understand why COVID-19 killed so many young Black men, you need to know the legend of John Henry.

How COVID-19 Hollowed Out a Generation of Young Black Men

The Rev. Dr. Kejuane Artez Bates was a big man with big responsibilities. The arrival of the novel coronavirus in Vidalia, Louisiana, was another burden on a body already breaking under the load. Bates was in his 10th year with the Vidalia Police Department, assigned as a resource officer to the upper elementary school.

How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering

In the 1930s, federal officials redlined these neighborhoods in Richmond, Va., marking them as risky investments because residents were Black.

Today, they are some of the hottest parts of town in the summer, with few trees and an abundance of heat-trapping pavement.

White neighborhoods that weren’t redlined tend to be much cooler today — a pattern that repeats nationwide.

 

2020 Virtual March on Washington

For generations, African Americans in this country have faced an anti-Black pandemic. From the unjust killings of innocent African Americans to the disproportionate impact of a global health pandemic, Black people have been getting attacked on all fronts. This moment has exposed the inequality embedded in the underlying fabric of our nation.

Join the thousands – virtually-who will March on Washington to set forth a bold new Black agenda restore and recommit to the dream. The Commitment March, convened by Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, will gather at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., for an inclusive day of action.

The 2020 Virtual March on Washington and the Commitment March will take place on the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

This time, the Alabama state troopers saluted

SELMA — This time, the Alabama state troopers saluted.

The late John Lewis crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the final time Sunday in a triumphant celebration of his tireless fight for civil rights, often in the face of violent resistance.

Mourners cheered, sang, and cried as a horse-drawn carriage carried Lewis’ flag-draped casket over the Alabama River and toward Montgomery.

When “Heritage” Means Hate

Many statues like the one next to the Culpeper courthouse were built across the South during the Jim Crow era (from 1877 to the 1950s) to intimidate Blacks, send a message about white supremacy and sentimentalize Confederate soldiers, according to historians.

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