“IAmWeUbuntu and the other march organizers will bring supporters of the incarcerated from across the country together under the banner of abolitionism.”
Prisoner rights advocates will converge for what aims to be the largest abolitionist demonstration in U.S. history, Saturday, August 9, in Washington D.C. The Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights March is centered around the demand that the exceptions clause, which allows for slavery to continue in United States prisons, be removed from the Constitution’s 13th Amendment.
While films such as Ava Duvernay’s 13th and books like The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, have helped usher the “peculiar clause” into popular discourse, the concrete realities of modern-day slavery continue to be obscured by reform rhetoric, responsibility politics and other such sources of confusion around the issue. Directing their attentions to the words penned by this country’s supposed Founders own hands, Millions for Prisoners need not rely on historical revisions to prop up its clear demand: abolish slavery in the United States of America.
With over 1,100 lives claimed last year by today’s slave-catchers in law enforcement, a Black imprisoned population that comprises 1/9 of the prisoners on earth and a manufactured “war on drugs” that rages on despite untold evidence of its foul origins, the fact of prison slavery should not exceed the imagination’s limits — and yet mass mobilization for its abolition has thus far not reflected the brutally severe implications of its ongoing practice. On August 19th, IAmWeUbuntu and the other march organizers both in and outside the walls seek to change that, as they bring family members, friends and supporters of the incarcerated from across the country together under the banner of abolitionism.
“The companies profiting off of an enslaved labor force are household names the world over.”
News outfits’ overwhelming response to this historic gathering as it approaches has been a deafening radio silence. This should come as no surprise in a mass media environment where six corporate giants control 90% of the industry — an industry that relies on ad revenue provided in large part by prison slavery profiteers. From McDonald’s and Wendy’s to Walmart and Target, Verizon, Sprint, American Airlines, Starbucks, Microsoft, Victoria’s Secret and numerous others, the companies profiting off of an enslaved labor force making anywhere from nothing to a few dollars an hour (averaging around 40 cents and 80 cents for ‘regular’ non-industry jobs and work for state-owned business, respectively) are household names the world over and yet the vast majority of their customers are unaware of their plantation-style business model. Not to mention the federal government itself, which profits off of enslaved inmate labor to the tune of around one billion dollars annually through its “Federal Prison Industries,” also known as UNICOR.
The growing modern-day abolitionist movement calls on all people of conscience to join in on the mass denunciation of this country’s original sin in D.C.’s Lafayette Park this Saturday, August 19th, to finally achieve the goal of ending slavery once and for all and without exception.
Kyle Fraser is a producer of Black Agenda Radio.