Jersey City comes together for 'Amend the 13th' event

Updated: Jun 29, 2019

On June 21, 2019 at the Jersey City Theatre Center in White Eagle Hall artists came together to bring a call to action against the 13th Amendment. As a community this event allowed individuals to network, collaborate, learn and express their thoughts regarding the 13th amendment and its direct correlation to Mass Incarceration.

Audience at Amen the 13th event Photo by: Bang Chau

If we want to end the 13th Amendment, if we want to end Mass Incarceration, if we want to make a change. We need to remember that we are all Human. So the next time you get asked "what are you?" make sure you answer with Human. - Dennis Febo

The 13th amendment in the United States Constitution was written to "end slavery" however the clause still allows slavery to happen just under another name. The 13th amendment reads:

Section One:

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 Two:

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

This event hosted by Dennis Febo allowed teachers, performers, artist, and those within our prison system to speak on the impact of the 13th amendment. This amendment has allowed our legal system to unjustly in prison black and brown lives. While mandating them to work for under minimum wage and forcing them to pay for amenities at exorbitant prices. According to Federal Communications Commission phone calls can vary from $1 to $1.50 a minute and that is without adding in the the egregious fees. Which not only puts a financial burden on the individual in prison but the families who are also serving time to this system. They also suffer from not being able to communicate or support their loved ones in the system.

Numerous speakers were also able to shed life on how our prison system molds young people at a young age while they are told to seek education. The 13th amendment has created what is now known as the School to Prison Pipeline. In fact, when you type school into your google search bar 'school to prison pipeline' is the first result that comes up. According to the American Civil Liberties Union administrators who decide to expel or suspend students based off a 'discretionary violation' are 3 times as likely to be involved with the Juvenile Justice system the following year. These 'discretionary violations' make black youth 3 times more likely than their white peers to be suspended or expelled.

Call To Action

As the event came to a close the community was given a call to action by Dennis Febo the cultivator of the 'Amen the 13th event' and Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight. Angela spoke on the legislation (SR79 & AR201) that her and Senator Ron Rice which urges Congress to propose amendment to United States Constitution to prohibit use of slavery or indentured servitude for individuals convicted of crime. As a community we were empowered to call, text, write letters and make sure our voices were heard.

After speaking with many it was clear this event was an eye opener and even more clear that the 13th Amendment still has people enslaved.

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