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Mississippi Finally 'Officially' Banned Slavery — But It's Alive and Well in America and the Rest of the World

February 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Laura Gottesdiener, AlterNet

In a major step forward, Mississippi banned slavery this week! This type of definite legislative action is ostensibly the type of thing to be excited about in an era of unprecedented political foot-dragging, so congratulations Mississippi for finally ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment. Sure, the state is a little behind the curve on this one, given that the nation is a full 148 years past the official end of slavery (more on that, in a second). But Mississippi isn’t the only state that took awhile to warm up to the idea that people shouldn't own, sell, beat and rape other people in a nation that is largely (and perhaps falsely) recognized as one of the most civilized in the world. 

Delaware waited until the turn of the twentieth century to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, while Kentucky waited another three-quarters of a century, finally ratifying the legislation in 1976. That left Mississippi the last holdout state until it ratified the amendment in 1995. But this leap forward in Mississippi history didn’t become official until earlier this week, mostly because the state forgot to tell anyone–particularly the U.S. archivist–about its 1995 ratification. After a few Mississippians saw Lincoln, they noticed online that their own state wasn’t actually part of this historic ratification, and thus this week’s action.

A lot of people are pretty excited that Mississippi has decided to join the rest of the nation in outlawing human bondage. But in these celebrations, we seem to have forgotten one thing: Modern-day slavery is still a thriving industry, both in Mississippi and in the rest of the nation.

In fact, Mississippi is something of regional slave transportation hub, according to the state’s special assistant attorney general Heather Wagner, who explains that the easy highway access to nearby major cities and the Gulf Coast ports make the state a trafficking corridor. The state recently passed rules requiring longer prison sentences for people caught enslaving and trafficking humans, such as the two Mississippi men who were recently indicted for selling or buying of children after being caught with a video that shows them enslaving and raping a girl about three years old.

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