SWING PHI SWING SOCIAL FELLOWSHIP INC. ® STATEMENT
THE 13th AMENDMENT TO END SLAVERY AND INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE
At the formation of this nation, the Declaration of Independence asserted separation from British rule and established the basis for human rights where all men were created equal with certain unalienable rights. These same rights were not permissible to millions of Africans forced into slavery and indentured servitude, not until the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862. Yet thousands of Africans remained in captivity several years later for varying reasons, most notably due to the economic impact that a reduction in free labor would impose on the commercial market.
In 1865, Congress ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution (Amendment XIII), thereby ended the Civil war and formally abolished slavery nationally and permanently. Subsequently, our independence would continually be challenged via a conditional clause within the very amendment that liberated us.
This “exception clause” allowed a loophole that encouraged permissive enslavement and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. State governments used selective vagrancy laws or Black Codes to criminalize black life for negligible crimes to ensure free labor to be sold both directly and indirectly for a premium, which still holds true in 2019.
Far too long we have been adversely affected by this clause which criminalizes our loved ones at a disproportionate rate, leaving a lasting void in our community, all to fuel the profit engine that is mass incarceration. Although the United States only holds 5% of the global population, our nation leads the total incarcerated population at over 25% due to this clause.
Amendment XIII of the US Constitution currently states:
Section 1: "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 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
This exception is in direct conflict with the United States Declaration of Independence and with global standards listed in Article 4 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states,
“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” With the rise of mass incarcerations, it is evident that slavery never ended but shifted to a new business model of private for profit prisons fueled by Amendment XIII.
We the Sisters of Swing Phi Swing SFI® denounce modern day slavery in all forms and stand in solidarity with officials who seek to remove the exception clause to affirm:
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Lori S. Gittens, MBA
10th National President
Swing Phi Swing SFI®