Three-fifths of a person

“Representatives… shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

three-fifthsWhen I was vamping while waiting for the speaker for an Adult Education class during Black History Month at my church, I preemptively pointed out that the reason we STILL talk about these issues is that they are not always that well known.

Making a very tangential point, I mentioned in passing the Three-Fifth Compromise. I took this on faith that everyone knew what I was talking about. It was in the original US Constitution:

Article 1, Section 2:
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other Persons.”

Those “all other persons” were slaves. It was not changed until the Fourteenth Amendment, passed by Congress on June 13, 1866, and ratified on July 9, 1868.

However, there were a couple of people who did not know this piece of Americana. So the conversation inadvertently proved the point.

“Black history IS American history” has become the mantra of both who want to continue Black History Month, and those who think it’s “been done.” The latter say, “We know about George Washington Carver and Martin Luther King already.”

To that end, I recommend checking out Filling In the Gaps in American History, which is “a collection of biographies, experiences, commentaries and behind the scenes looks at events in American History dealing with people of African descent that are generally not recorded in history texts.”

Jacqui C. Williams, FIGAH founding director, writes: “There were artists, inventors, activists, educators, women, and men of faith, cowboys, stagecoach drivers, law enforcement officers, entrepreneurs and more who contributed to the creation and development of this land over and above the labor of those enslaved. I did not read of them in my history classes…”

Speaking of history, All Over Albany did a piece on Stephen Myers for Black History Month.

And I came across Civil Rights: Holding the Hands of History. It’s a Facebook Community Page about Viola Liuzzo by her daughter Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe. Viola Liuzzo was a white Detroit housewife who was shot to death by Ku Klux Klan members following the voting rights march in Alabama, the march depicted in the movie “Selma.”

From there, I found the blog of Tara Ochs, who plays Viola in the movie. Check out, especially, her posts from 2014 forward.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “Three-fifths of a person”

  1. I never feel qualified to put an intelligent comment, as I never know much about this topic. Where I grew up there were just us and the natives. I think I saw my first black person on TV then. We never were taught anything about them in school. I think I will check out these links then.

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