The Legacy Election

November 18, 2018

The Legacy Museum in Montgomery Alabama draws a line from slavery to mass incarceration in America in stating:

“The legal instruments that abolished racialized chattel slavery in America did nothing to address the narrative of racial hierarchy that sustained enslavement, nor did they establish a national commitment to racial equality.

“For that reason, we believe that slavery did not end: it evolved. In the era that followed, white Southerners who had once been supporters of slavery and defenders of the Confederacy re-established the racial hierarchy and white supremacy through racial terror lynching and other brutal violence, while Northern officials and national leaders did little.”

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Unlike Germany, South Africa, and Rwanda, America hasn’t honestly faced up to our own bloodstained history. Because we didn’t have a Holocaust Memorial like Berlin, an Apartheid Museum like Johannesburg, or a Genocide Memorial like the one in Kigali, Rwanda, this chapter in our country’s history has often been glossed over, minimized, and misunderstood.

Even after emancipation African American former slaves and their descendants in the South were denied the right to vote for another century. “Black Codes” enacted by white legislators led to the re-enslavement of many as convicts who were then leased out or sold to individuals or companies. Others were forced into subsistence as sharecroppers. In the 1960’s voting rights were finally won, but since then progress has gone backwards. Mass incarceration is one aspect of the legacy of slavery. Voter suppression is another.

This past week the contest for Governor of Georgia finally resolved in favor of Kemp. His win rates an asterisk for all the measures he took as the election supervisor to shape the electorate. He removed over half a million voters from the rolls in 2017 as Secretary of State. Democrat Stacey Abrams concluded that Kemp will be the next Governor but she explicitly did not concede. While some might dismiss the point as sour grapes from a sore loser, those who’ve visited the Legacy Museum and learned from the history it presents will understand her point very well…and why she made it.

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