Open Letter to the Senate Pro Tempore and Senators White, Sears, Pollina, Cummings, Brooks and Ingram Regarding a Resolution Proposing the 2019 Senate Amend the Constitution to Remove Slavery

April 17, 2018

Mr President Pro Tempe, Peter, et. all,This inquiry went out over a month ago and I have not received a direct response, though I’ve been told that it is now “late in the session” and there a too many other things on your plates. I asked Senator Ingram to look into this and among other reasons she is  telling me that this resolution would not be taken up this session. Some indirect responses seem to suggest the assumption that we don’t understand the constitutional amendment process. We understand the constitutional amendment process. Other Senators have avoided this discussion by speaking about the 2019 Biennium as if somehow they have little chance of being a part of it (unlikely). Not to be overly critical but it seems that someone ought to be asking why there has NEVER been a proposal of a constitutional amendment, removing slavery (though there has been an ERA proposal which was not ratified because it was voted down when it reached the state ballot.). I think we all understand that you all take an oath to the constitution every time they are sworn in.

I am hearing (also indirectly) that the reason why some senators think that this is a bad idea is that “it won’t bind the 2019 senate”. We have no intention on binding a future senate. We do however want the existing seated senate to go on record on this issue, given the fact that in all likelihood most all of them will return. It is for this reason that I disagree with some senators comments that this will “bring nothing to the discussion”. In fact, I believe that it WILL START THE DISCUSSION in the midst of our continued false narrative that Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery!

Senator White represents Windsor, the home of Stephen Jacobs who was on the Council of Censors, States Attorney, County Judge, United States District Attorney, Member of Governors Council and State Supreme Court Judge while owning at least one slave in Vermont (Dinah White). They don’t teach that in school here. Let’s not compartmentalize this because then we’ll forget the importance of S.281, a bill to mitigate systemic racism in Vermont. To not understand the history of Dinah also distracts us form the conversations of patriarchy, poverty and disability.

I am having a hard time with the fact that 1) language stating the position of intent to clarify reference to slavery in the constitution has been in the VDP Platform since 2016 (before the election), and 2) you have already passed a resolution requesting an action of the 2019 Senate [ERA Amendment]. With something as important as this, It troubles me that in a time like THIS, that our VDP senate majority would not take up a resolution to urge the 2019 senate to amend the constitution to eliminate slavery.

Are we really waiting for another election cycle to pass?

 

Mark Hughes,
ED, Justice For All

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