“Involuntary servitude is just slavery by another name.”― Dorsey Nunn
The battle to abolish slavery and dismantle structural racism in America is still raging, and we need your help to win it. With the rising awareness of how deep structural racism pervades policing and prisons across the country, we now have the opportunity to use the decades of movement work by current and formerly incarcerated organizers, family members, and allies as a launching point to eliminate a key component of systemic oppression: Involuntary Servitude.
This battle against bondage began in the minds of “20. and odd Negroes” who, in 1619, were forced off ships and traded for food in the English colony of Jamestown, VA. Neither the Civil War nor Emancipation ended slavery, contrary to popular conception, as the 13thAmendment’s “exception clause” encoded forced, free labor in the U.S. Constitution, a situation plantation and factory owners immediately took advantage of through Jim Crow laws and convict leasing programs. Currently, state and federal prisons allow governments and businesses to profit millions of dollars by exploiting a captive labor pool in the name of rehabilitation.
California enshrines involuntary servitude in Article 1, Section 6 of the constitution. We have organized the Abolish Bondage Collectively (ABC) coalition to work with legislators and our communities to rid our state of this aspect of slavery through amending the state constitution.
Abolish Bondage Collectively joins other state and national movements to abolish slavery: recently state legislators in Colorado, Utah, and Nebraska stripped their state constitutions of all mentions of slavery and involuntary servitude. If those states, run by conservative legislators, can abolish slavery, surely “progressive” states like California can.
Abolish Bondage Collective is led by current and formerly incarcerated organizers and family members, along with allies who recognize “those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.” And while our personal experience and expertise, coupled with our passionate commitment to the health and safety of all our communities, puts us at the forefront of the fight, we need your help.
It will take all of us, working together and sharing resources, to finally eliminate this vestige of slavery.
We welcome your full participation in the coalition. All we required is your voice and your commitment to uplift the voices of others who are directly impacted by the criminal legal system and the prison industrial complex.
Title: Modern Day Slavery
Details: Size 11”X22”, watercolor on canvas.
Completed between 2009-18 totaling 9 hours.
“My inspiration came from The New Yorker review of Stephen Spielberg's “Amistad” artist Kadir Nelson. I read this while I served time in Solano State Prison. His work impacted my vision which was to connect the past with the present. Here, slave masters and overseers were replaced by wardens and correctional officers. There are prisoners in uniforms, and others you can’t make out which are the spirits of the millions of unknown slaves. We’ve replaced cotton with license plates, office furniture and PIA laundry service. Let there be no mistake that slavery and involuntary servitude is alive and well. The Review Boards have replaced auctioneers by sending CDCR prisoners from prison to prison based on need and space. It has become my purpose in life to turn prisons into centers of healing. May this painting spark that movement to kick Jim Crow out of the California Constitution.”