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.

U is for Underground Railroad History Project

Stephen A. Myers
Stephen A. Myers
This being the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, I figure I should note one of the treasures of the Albany, NY area: the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region. In case you are unaware, the Underground Railroad was the “effort–sometimes spontaneous, sometimes highly organized–to assist persons held in bondage in North America to escape from slavery.” See also information from the PBS site and

The UGRR History Project started when Mary Liz, an elementary school teacher was interested to see if there was any UGRR history in the Albany area. Most of the experts told her no. Yet she and her husband Paul , who works for a community loan fund, were dissatisfied with the answer, and kept digging for more.

Eventually, they found enough historically significant sites to give walking tours in Albany. The non-profit organization they helped form has held a well-regarded conference on the topic for a dozen years.

Most significantly, they discovered a residence of Stephen and Harriet Myers, “point people in Albany regarding the Underground Railroad in the 1850s, which their organization has helped rebuild. Here’s the Wikipedia page about the structure.

In October, Paul and Mary Liz Stewart bicycled 730 miles across New York State on the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Trail. They brought attention to the important role the Erie Canal played in the Underground Railroad movement and raised funds for Underground Railroad History Project.

ABC Wednesday, Round 15

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