Tag Archives: Arizona

Arrested for fighting slavery? 35.8 million people are trapped in modern slavery around the world


WALK FREE.ORG Modern slavery couldn’t be closer to home for Biram Dah Abeid. The twelfth of thirteen children born to an enslaved mother, Biram was released from a life of servitude while still in the womb.1 His release was the dying act of his mother’s master in Mauritania, a country where the children of slaves become the property of their owners.

Biram grew up a member of the Haratina, the class of people known to be the descendants of slaves, many of whom remain trapped in situations of slavery and exploitation by Mauritania’s slave-owning elites. Biram and others have made it their life’s mission to end this abuse in Mauritania.2

However they face regular harassment and harsh treatment in this fight for freedom. As you read this Biram and his fellow activists are sitting in a prison cell for their work to end slavery in Mauritania — and we need your help to secure justice

Call on the Mauritanian government to free Biram Dah Abeid and his fellow anti-slavery activists.

The 2014 Global Slavery Index revealed that   — and Mauritania is one of the worst offenders, with the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world.3That’s why the work of anti-slavery activists such as Biram is so important; but instead of addressing the root causes of slavery, the Mauritanian government is working to intimidate those that speak out

Sources close to the activists have made serious allegations that some of the group have been tortured, including being stripped, beaten and trampled by police since their arrest last year.

The activists were arrested during a peaceful anti-slavery protest and were convicted in January for inciting hatred under Mauritania’s terrorism laws.

A huge wave of international pressure now could force the Mauritanian government to prioritize ending slavery and stop the harassment of anti-slavery activists.

Send a message to Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, calling on him to release these activists and get serious about tackling modern slavery.

It has now been weeks since Biram and his fellow activists’ imprisonment: let’s not wait any longer to get them out of prison and back to fighting against slavery.

In hope,

Victoria, Mika, Jayde, Joanna and the Walk Free team

1 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/08/freedom-fighter
2 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/08/freedom-fighter
3 http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/

On This Day …. Cesar Estrada Chavez 4/23/93


by UFW

The Story of Cesar Chavez
THE BEGINNING

The story of Cesar Estrada Chavez begins near Yuma, Arizona. Cesar was born on March 31, 1927.

He was named after his grandfather, Cesario. Regrettably, the story of Cesar Estrada Chavez also ends near Yuma, Arizona. He passed away on April 23, 1993, in San Luis, a small village near Yuma, Arizona.

He learned about justice or rather injustice early in his life. Cesar grew up in Arizona; the small adobe home, where Cesar was born was swindled from them by dishonest Anglos. Cesar’s father agreed to clear eighty acres of land and in exchange he would receive the deed to forty acres of land that adjoined the home. The agreement was broken and the land sold to a man named Justus Jackson. Cesar’s dad went to a lawyer who advised him to borrow money and buy the land.  Later when Cesar’s father could not pay the interest on the  loan the lawyer bought back the land and sold it to the original owner. Cesar learned a lesson about injustice that he would never forget. Later, he would say, The love for justice that  is in us is not only the best part of our being but it is also the most true to our nature.

            In 1938 he and his family moved to California. He lived in La Colonia Barrio in Oxnard for a short period, returning to Arizona several months later. They returned to California in June 1939 and this time settled in San Jose. They lived in the barrio called Sal Si Puedes -“Get Out If You Can.” Cesar thought the only way to get out of the circle of poverty was to work his way up and send the kids to college.  He and his family worked in the fields of California from Brawley to Oxnard, Atascadero, Gonzales, King City, Salinas, McFarland, Delano Wasco, Selma, Kingsburg, and Mendota.

He did not like school as a child, probably because he spoke only Spanish at home. The teachers were mostly Anglo and only spoke English. Spanish was forbidden in school. He remembers being punished with a ruler to his knuckles for violating the rule. He also remembers that some schools were segregated and he felt that in the integrated schools he was like a monkey in a cage. He remembers having to listen to a lot of racist remarks. He remembers seeing signs that read whites only. He and his brother, Richard, attended thirty-seven  schools. He felt that education had nothing to do with his farm worker/migrant way of life. In 1942 he graduated from the eighth grade. Because his father, Librado, had been in an accident and because he did not want his mother, Juana, to work in the fields, he could not to go to high school, and instead became a migrant farm worker.

While his childhood school education was not the best, later in life, education was his passion. The walls of his office in La Paz (United Farm Worker Headquarters ) are lined with hundreds of books ranging from philosophy, economics, cooperatives, and unions, to biographies on Gandhi and the Kennedys’. He believed that, “The end of all education should surely be service to others,” a belief that he practiced until his untimely death.

He joined the U.S. Navy, which was then segregated, in 1946, at the age of 19, and served for two years.

In 1948 Cesar married Helen Fabela. They honeymooned in California by visiting all the California Missions from Sonoma to San Diego (again the influence of education). They settled in Delano and started their family. First Fernando, then Sylvia, then Linda, and five  more children were to follow.

Cesar returned to San Jose where he met and was influenced by Father Donald McDonnell. They talked about farm workers and strikes. Cesar began reading about St. Francis and Gandhi and nonviolence. After Father McDonnell came another very influential person, Fred Ross.

Cesar became an organizer for Ross’ organization, the Community Service Organization – CSO. His first task was voter registration.

THE UNITED FARM WORKERS IS BORN

In 1962 Cesar founded the National Farm Workers Association, later to become the United Farm Workers – the UFW. He was joined by Dolores Huerta and the union was born. That same year Richard Chavez designed the UFW Eagle and Cesar chose the black and red colors. Cesar told the story of the birth of the eagle. He asked Richard to design the flag, but Richard could not make an eagle that he liked. Finally he sketched one on a piece of brown wrapping paper. He then squared off the wing edges so that the eagle would be easier for union members to draw on the handmade red flags that would give courage to the farm workers with their own powerful symbol. Cesar made reference to the flag by stating, “A symbol is an important thing. That is why we chose an Aztec eagle. It gives pride . . . When people see it they know it means dignity.”

For a long time in 1962, there were very few union dues paying members.  By 1970 the UFW got grape growers to accept union contracts and had             effectively organized most of that industry, at one point in time claiming 50,000 dues paying members. The reason was Cesar Chavez’s  tireless leadership and nonviolent tactics that included the Delano  grape strike, his fasts that focused national attention on farm workers  problems, and the 340-mile march from Delano to Sacramento in 1966.  The farm workers and supporters carried banners with the black eagle  with HUELGA (strike) and VIVA LA CAUSA (Long live our cause). The  marchers wanted the state government to pass laws which would permit farm workers to organize into a union and allow collective bargaining  agreements. Cesar made people aware of the struggles of farm workers  for better pay and safer working conditions. He succeeded through             nonviolent tactics (boycotts, pickets, and strikes). Cesar Chavez  and the union sought recognition of the importance and dignity of  all farm workers.

It was the beginning of La Causa a cause that was supported by  organized labor, religious groups, minorities, and students. Cesar Chavez had the foresight to train his union workers and then to  send many of them into the cities where they were to use the boycott and picket as their weapon.

Cesar was willing to sacrifice his own life so that the union would  continue and that violence was not used. Cesar fasted many times.  In 1968 Cesar went on a water only, 25 day fast. He repeated the  fast in 1972 for 24 days, and again in 1988, this time for 36 days.  What motivated him to do this? He said, Farm workers everywhere  are angry and worried that we cannot win without violence. We have proved it before through persistence, hard work, faith and willingness  to sacrifice. We can win and keep our own self-respect and build  a great union that will secure the spirit of all people if we do  it through a rededication and recommitment to the struggle for justice  through nonviolence.

THE FAST

Many events precipitated the fast, especially the terrible suffering of the farm workers and their children,                     the crushing of farm worker rights, the dangers of pesticides,  and the denial of fair and free elections.

Cesar said about the fast, ” A fast is first and foremost personal. It is a fast for the purification of my own body, mind, and soul. The fast is also a heartfelt prayer for purification and strengthening for all those who work beside me in the farm worker movement. The fast is also an act of penance for those in positions of moral authority and for all men and women activists who know what is right and just, who know that they could and should do more. The fast is finally a declaration of non-cooperation with supermarkets who promote and sell and profit from California table grapes. During the past few years I have been studying the plague of pesticides on our land and our food,” Cesar continued “The evil is far greater than even I had thought it to be, it threatens to choke out the life of our people and also the life system that supports us all. This solution to this deadly crisis will not be found in the arrogance of the powerful, but in  solidarity with the weak and helpless. I pray to God that this fast will be a preparation for a multitude of simple deeds for justice. Carried out by men and women whose hearts  are focused on the suffering of the poor and who yearn, with us, for a better world. Together, all things are possible.”

Cesar Chavez completed his 36-day Fast for Life on August 21, 1988. The Reverend Jesse Jackson took up where Cesar left off, fasting on water for three days before passing on the fast to celebrities  and leaders. The fast was passed to Martin Sheen, actor; the Reverend  J. Lowery, President SCLC; Edward Olmos, actor; Emilio Estevez,  actor; Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy, Peter Chacon,  legislator, Julie Carmen, actress; Danny Glover, actor; Carly Simon,  singer; and Whoopi Goldberg, actress.

THE DEATH OF CESAR CHAVEZ

Cesar Estrada Chavez died peacefully in his sleep on April 23, 1993 near Yuma, Arizona, a short distance from the small family farm in the Gila River Valley where he was born more than 66 years before.The founder and president of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO was in Yuma helping UFW attorneys defend the union against a lawsuit brought by Bruce Church Inc., a giant Salinas,  Calif.-based lettuce and vegetable producer. Church demanded that the farm workers pay millions of dollars in damages resulting  from a UFW boycott of its lettuce during the 1980’s. Rather than bring the legal action in a state where the boycott actually  took place, such as California or New York, Church “shopped around” for a friendly court in conservative, agribusiness-dominated Arizona-where there had been no boycott activity.

“Cesar gave his last ounce of strength defending the farm workers  in this case,” stated his successor, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez,  who was with him in Arizona during the trial. He died standing up  for their First Amendment right to speak out for themselves. He believed in his heart that the farm workers were right in boycotting Bruce Church Inc. lettuce during the l980’s and he was determined  to prove that in court.” (When the second multimillion dollar judgment  for Church was later thrown out by an appeal’s court, the company  signed a UFW contract in May 1996.

After the trial recessed at about 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 22,  Cesar spent part of the afternoon driving through Latino neighborhoods  in Yuma that he knew as a child. Many Chavezes still live in the area.

He arrived about 6 p.m. in San Luis, Arizona-about 20 miles from Yuma, at the modest concrete-block home of Dofla Maria Hau, a former  farm worker and longtime friend. Cesar and eight other UFW leaders  and staff were staying at her house in a poor farm worker neighborhood not far from the Mexican border.

Cesar ate dinner at around 9 p.m. and presided over a brief meeting  to review the day’s events. He had just finished two days of often grueling examination by attorneys for Bruce Church Inc.

He talked to his colleagues about taking care of themselves-a recent  recurring theme with Cesar because he was well aware of the long hours required from him and other union officers and staff. Still,  he was in good spirits despite being exhausted after prolonged questioning on the witness stand; he complained about feeling some weakness  when doing his evening exercises.

The UFW founder went to bed at about 10 or 10:30 p.m. A union staff  member said he later saw a reading light shining from Cesar’s room.

The light was still on at 6 a.m. the next morning. That was not  seen as unusual. Cesar usually woke up in the early hours of the  morning well before dawn to read, write or meditate.

When he had not come out by 9 a.m., his colleagues entered his  bedroom found that Cesar had died apparently, according to authorities,  at night in his sleep.

He was found lying on his back with his head turned to the left. His shoes were off and he still wore his clothes from the day before. In his right hand was a book on Native American crafts. There was  a peaceful smile on his face.

THE LAST MARCH WITH CESAR CHAVEZ

On April 29, 1993, Cesar Estrada  Chavez was honored in death by those he led in life. More than  50,000 mourners came to honor the charismatic labor leader at the site of his first public fast in 1968 and his last in 1988, the United Farm Workers Delano Field Office at “Forty Acres.”It was the largest funeral of any labor leader in the history of the U.S. They came in caravans from Florida to California to pay respect to a man whose strength was in his simplicity.Farm workers, family members, friends and union staff took turns standing vigil over the plain pine coffin which held the body of Cesar Chavez. Among the honor guard were many                     celebrities who had supported Chavez throughout his years  of struggle to better the lot of farmworkers throughout America.

Many of the mourners had marched side by side with Chavez during his tumultuous years in the vineyards and farms of America. For  the last time, they came to march by the side of the man who had taught them to stand up for their rights, through nonviolent protest and collective bargaining.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney, who celebrated the funeral mass, called  Chavez “a special prophet for the worlds’ farm workers.” Pall bearers,   including crews of these workers, Chavez children and grandchildren,  then carried their fallen leader, resting at last, from the Memorial  Park to Forty Acres.

The death of Chavez marked an era of dramatic changes in American agriculture. His contributions would be eroded, and others would have to shoulder the burden of his work. But, Cesar Chavez, who insisted that those who labor in the earth were entitled to share fairly in the rewards of their toil, would never be forgotten.

As Luis Valdez said, “Cesar, we have come to plant your heart like a seed . . . the farm workers shall harvest in the seed of your  memory.”
              FINAL RESTING PLACE/FINAL RECOGNITION

The body of Cesar Chavez was taken to La Paz, the UFW’s California headquarters, by his family and UFW leadership. He was laid to rest near a bed of roses, in front of his office.On August 8, 1994, at a White House ceremony, Helen Chavez, Cesar’s widow, accepted the Medal of Freedom for her late  husband from President Clinton. In the citation accompanying America’s highest civilian honor which was awarded posthumously, the President lauded Chavez for having “faced formidable,often violent opposition with dignity and nonviolence.And he was victorious. Cesar Chavez left our world better  than he found it, and his legacy inspires us still. He was for his own people a Moses figure,” the President declared. “The farm workers who labored in the fields and yearned for  respect and self-sufficiency pinned their hopes on this remarkable  man who, with faith and discipline, soft spoken humility and amazing inner strength, led a very courageous life”

The citation accompanying the award noted how Chavez was a farm worker from childhood who “possessed a deep personal understanding  of the plight of migrant workers, and he labored all his years to lift their lives.” During his lifetime, Chavez never earned more   than $5,000 a year. The late Senator Robert Kennedy called him “one of the heroic figures of our time.”

Chavez’s successor, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, thanked the president on behalf of the United Farm Workers and said, “Every day in California and in other states where farm workers are organizing,  Cesar Chavez lives in their hearts. Cesar lives wherever Americans’ he inspired work nonviolently for social change.”

FDR had something to say about voting


votingFranklin D. Roosevelt once said

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

Feminism …


by The Thinker-Writer January 31, 2010
 The belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men. These people can be either male or female human beings, although the ideology is commonly (and perhaps falsely) associated mainly with women.The basic idea of Feminism revolves around the principle that just because human bodies are designed to perform certain procreative functions, biological elements need not dictate intellectual and social functions, capabilities, and rights.Feminism also, by its nature, embraces the belief that all people are entitled to freedom and liberty within reason–including equal civil rights–and that discrimination should not be made based on gender, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, religion, culture, or lifestyle. Feminists–and all persons interested in civil equality and intellectuality–are dedicated to fighting the ignorance that says people are controlled by and limited to their biology.
Feminism is the belief that all people are entitled to the same civil rights and liberties and can be intellectual equals regardless of gender. However, you should still hold the door for a feminist; this is known as respect or politeness and need have nothing whatever to do with gender discrimination.
by The Thinker-Writer January 31, 2010
***********************************************************

So, why did I go to urban dictionary for the definition of Feminism?

beaseedforchangestickersGREENI got my Cosmo in the mail and while the fashions are fun some gaudy others worthy of a second look or two most are out of my price and age range, but when I see hair and beauty products well now that is a whole different response entirely. As I was thumbing through one of many magazines, which is another bad habit, an article about feminism popped up and yes folks are questioning Beyoncé among others with headlines such as … “Can you be Sexy and a Feminist” or as Cosmo asks, “Can you be a Sexy Feminist? It was a quick read and in all honesty I don’t spend a whole lot of my time dissecting labels, but I will say that being a feminist used to be defined as a woman who didn’t appreciate men some said they despised them. We were advised to always question the roles of men & women, demand equal access to education, hard core feminist suggested being a companion, forget about being happily married least we acquiesce simply because we are women. I don’t subscribe to hating on men, I like men on several levels, that includes my dad, my kids father, my son and a couple of boss’ who happened to be male. As a side note on a political level, Republican men are the bane of our existence in my opinion. When it comes to being an active participant, I have to admit, I too, have danced to fabulous music with either or both having misogynistic and chauvinistic words. It’s definitely not something I used to think about while dancing, but I have gotten upset when it became clear what is being said; generally this kind of talk would get a whole different response if these words were being exchanged through a conversation.   However, it does appear that the word feminism and or being a feminist in this 21st society is ever changing ever evolving to being about a belief in equality and the rights of everyone in all its forms and genders. I see the urban dictionary as being a place not only run by a younger group of folks but who use it and research the “stuff” they post. I admit to not referring to the urban dictionary that much,but found the post in the process of searching what younger folks felt about the comments on who is or can be a feminist, it caught my eye.  As you read on, Cosmo asked stars like lady gaga, lana del rey and taylor swift just to name a few, but when Pharrell was asked he stated, “I don’t think it’s possible for me to be (a feminist). I’m a man, but I do support feminists.”

Anyway, an article worth reading in Cosmo September 2014 ~~ Nativegrl77

What do you think? Is being a feminist gender specific?

 

African Americans 15th Amendment and SCOTUS


www.crf-usa.org

Following the Civil War, Radical Republicans in Congress introduced a series of laws and constitutional amendments to try to secure civil and political rights for black people. This wing of the Republican Party was called “radical” because of its strong stance on these and other issues. The right that provoked the greatest controversy, especially in the North, concerned black male suffrage: the right of the black man to vote.

bhm15thAmendmentPgsm

In 1867, Congress passed a law requiring the former Confederate states to include black male suffrage in their new state constitutions. Ironically, even though African American men began voting in the South after 1867, the majority of Northern states continued to deny them this basic right.

In the North, the Republican’s once-huge voter majority over the Democratic Party was declining. Radical Republican leaders feared that they might lose control of Congress to the Democrats.

One solution to this problem called for including the black man’s vote in all Northern states. Republicans assumed the new black voters would vote Republican just as their brothers were doing in the South. By increasing its voters in the North and South, the Republican Party could then maintain its stronghold in Congress.

The Republicans, however, faced an incredible dilemma. The idea of blacks voting was not popular in the North. In fact, several Northern states had recently voted against black male suffrage.

In May 1868, the Republicans held their presidential nominating convention in Chicago and chose Ulysses S. Grant as their candidate. The Republicans agreed that African-American male suffrage continued to be a requirement for the Southern states, but decided that the Northern states should settle this issue for themselves.

Grant was victorious in the election of 1868, but this popular general won by a surprisingly slim margin. It was clear to Republican leaders that if they were to remain in power, their party needed the votes of black men in the North.

The 15th Amendment

When the new year began in 1869, the Republicans were ready to introduce a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the black man’s right to vote. For two months, Congress considered the proposed amendment. Several versions of the amendment were submitted, debated, rejected and then reconsidered in both the House and Senate.

Finally, at the end of February 1869, Congress approved a compromise amendment that did not even specifically mention the black man:

Section 1: The right of citizens of the United States vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Once approved by the required two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate, the 15th Amendment had to be ratified by 28, or three-fourths, of the states. Due to the reconstruction laws, black male suffrage already existed in 11 Southern states. Since almost all of these states were controlled by Republican reconstruction governments, they could be counted on to ratify the 15th Amendment. Supporters of the 15th Amendment needed only 17 of the remaining 26 Northern and Western states in order to succeed. At this time, just nine of these states allowed the black man to vote. The struggle for and against ratification hung on what blacks and other political interests would do.

The Blacks

Only days after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox in April, 1865, black abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke before the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. In his speech, Douglass explained why the black man wanted the right to vote “in every state of the Union”:

It is said that we are ignorant; admit it. But if we know enough to be hung, we know enough to vote. If the Negro knows enough to pay taxes to support government, he knows enough to vote; taxation and representation should go together. If he knows enough to shoulder a musket and fight for the flag for the government, he knows enough to vote ….What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice.

While Congress debated the 15th Amendment early in 1869, 150 black men from 17 states assembled for a convention in Washington, D.C. This was the first national meeting of black Americans in the history of the United States. Frederick Douglass was elected president of the convention.

The delegates praised the Republicans in Congress for passing the reconstruction laws and congratulated General Grant on his election to the White House. They also pledged their continued support of the Republican Party.

Those attending the convention also spent time meeting with members of Congress, encouraging them to pass a strong amendment guaranteeing black male suffrage nationwide. When the meeting adjourned, the delegates were confident that a new era of democracy for the black man was about to begin.

bhm15thamendmentcelebrationsm
A poster celebrates the passage of the 15th Amendment. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Democrats

The Democrats realized they were fighting for political survival. They feared ratification of the 15th Amendment would automatically create some 170,000 loyal black Republican voters in the North and West.

In debates over the amendment, Democrats argued against the ratification by claiming that the 15th Amendment restricted the states’ rights to run their own elections. The Democrats also charged the Republicans with breaking their promise of allowing the states, outside the South, to decide for themselves whether to grant black male suffrage. Democrat leaders cited the low level of literacy in the black population and they predicted black voters would be easily swayed by false promises and outright bribery.

Victory, Then Tragedy

Despite Democratic opposition, the Republicans steadily won ratification victories throughout 1869. Ironically, it was a Southern state, Georgia that clinched the ratification of the 15th Amendment on February 2, 1870.

On March 30, President Grant officially proclaimed the 15th Amendment as part of the Constitution. Washington and many other American cities celebrated. More than 10,000 blacks paraded through Baltimore. In a speech on May 5, 1870, Frederick Douglass rejoiced. “What a country — fortunate in its institutions, in its 15th Amendment, in its future.”

The jubilation over victory did not last long. While Republicans acquired loyal black voters in the North, the South was an entirely different matter. The Ku Klux Klan and other violent racist groups intimidated black men who tried to vote, or who had voted, by burning their homes, churches and schools, even by resorting to murder.

When the election for president in 1876 ended with a dispute over electoral votes, the Republicans made a deal with the Southern Democrats. First, the Southerners agreed to support Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes for president. In turn, the Republicans promised to withdraw troops from the South and abandon federal enforcement of black’s rights, including the right to vote.

Within a few years, the Southern state governments required blacks to pay voting taxes, pass literacy tests and endure many other unfair restrictions on their right to vote. In Mississippi, 67 percent of the black adult men were registered to vote in 1867; by 1892 only 4 percent were registered. The political deal to secure Hayes as president rendered the 15th Amendment meaningless. Another 75 years passed before black voting rights were again enforced in the South.

For Discussion and Writing

  1. What was the “Republican dilemma” in 1868?
  2. During the ratification of the 15th Amendment, women’s suffrage leaders were told that it was “the Negro’s hour.” What did this mean? How did Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony respond to this argument? Do you think they did the right thing? Why or why not?

For Further Reading

Douglass, Frederick. Frederick Douglass; selections from his writings, edited, with an introduction, by Philip S. Foner. New York International Press, 1964.

Gillette, William. The Right to Vote: Politics and Passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1965.


A C T I V I T Y


Voting Rights Convention

In this activity, you will have a chance to re create history by going back to the year 1868 to participate in a voting rights convention. You will be assigned to a group that had a particular viewpoint on voting rights in 1868. Your group and four others at the convention will write a voting rights amendment to recommend to Congress. In this way, your class will have the opportunity to improve upon the original 15th Amendment that was passed by Congress early in 1869. For the purposes of this activity, it does not matter what your own sex or race is when you are assigned to one of the convention groups listed below.

Voting Rights Convention Groups: Republicans, Blacks, Abolitionists, Woman Suffragists, Democrats

  1. At random, assign each student to one of the five groups listed above.
  2. You should first re read the section of the article relating to your group (For example, Republicans should read “The Republican Dilemma.”)
  3. Next, discuss with your group what you think your purpose should be at this voting rights convention. For example, is your group in favor of a voting rights amendment? If so, what should it include? Write your purpose on a sheet of paper and have your teacher check it.
  4. Now re read the section titled, “The 15th Amendment.” If you are a member of the “Blacks” or “Abolitionists” also re-read the last section, “Victory, Then Tragedy.”
  5. With the other members of your group, write your own voting rights amendment. Remember to pay attention to the views and purpose of your group at this convention. You can use the wording of the actual 15th Amendment as a guide, but try to change or improve it from your group’s point of view.
  6. All the amendments written at the convention should now be put on the board. Each group with a proposed amendment should explain it to the entire convention. Members of other groups may ask questions or argue against it at this time.
  7. Finally, the convention members should vote on which voting rights amendment to recommend to Congress. However, the rules of the convention require that in order for an amendment to be recommended, two thirds of the convention members must approve it. If none of the proposed amendments receives at least two thirds of the convention votes, the group members should try to negotiate a compromise amendment that will attract the support of the other groups.
  8. After completing this activity, contrast your convention’s amendment with the original 15th Amendment. How are they different? Is the convention amendment better? Why? If the convention amendment had been ratified in 1870, would it have made any difference to black voters, women or other groups in American society?

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