13th Amendment of the Constitution

Published: 2022-10-06
13th Amendment of the Constitution
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  History Economics Medicine
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1206 words
11 min read

Oppression in any form is hard to eradicate. The phenomenon keeps reinventing itself across ages. An example is slavery in the USA which was stopped by the 13th amendment bit seems to be existing to the present day America through racial discrimination and criminalization of some races like African Americans. In the film 13th, such facts are portrayed vividly. Based on the 13th amendment clause and the movie 13th, this paper aims to explore the loopholes of crime that exists in the provision. The provision has on several occasions been used against people about color, and specifically African Americans and Latinos. Thus, the essays focus on how the past, when the 13th amendment was signed connects with the present day America.

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Richard Nixon's call for 'Law & Order'

The objective of the 13th amendment was to eradicate slavery. However, in its formation, a clause existed that many people didn't realize. The documentary 13th exposes this loophole. The provision states that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for the crime of which the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist."

The above clause gives room for the use of forced labor with the condition that the laborer is convicted. It justifies the claim that some people of specific color still want to dominate over others. Through the use of historical footage and interviews Ava DuVernay supports this claim on the 1865 amendment.

One good example of evidence that supports Ava's claim in the documentary is President Richard Nixon's call for 'Law & Order.' His call made prison to experience high populations. Statistics show that the U.S. has 5% of the world's population. Most of the prisons, nearly 25% are found in the U.S. Most of the people who were imprisoned during the call for order were blacks.

Other evidence exists to show that actually, the administration was aware of what they were doing. First, John Ehrlichman, who was an Assistant to President Nixon for Domestic Affairs affirmed that all these were happening in the best of their knowledge. Secondly, the idea of drug busts, Jim Crow laws and segregation were all against the domination of black Americans. This includes the current 'Prison/Industrial Complex which a new version of the same issue. This explains why DuVernay reasons that concerning 13th amendment, small changes cannot bring any change to the system. The whole system has to be rebuilt.

The Economic System of Slavery

In line with the economics of slavery, the documentary presents the reality of what the dominating races thought of the blacks and why the 13th amendment was created with loopholes. A feature was incorporated politically into the U.S. Constitution that turned the enslaved Africans into political capital. The aim was to produce benefits for the southern states. This was the creation of the three-fifths compromise. The clause allowed the southern states to count their slaves as three-fifths of a person. This was to create a balance of power between the northern and southern states in the Congress. This explains the reason for the loophole in the 13th amendment.

When it comes to the question of the viability of slaves in the South, the same applies. The whites didn't want at any point to imagine that blacks had equal rights to them. They had to find other ways to make sure that blacks remained subordinate. Before that, the profitability of the slaves was a significant factor to consider. Analysts have shown in the debate that the slave economy in the South was more productive than its Northern counterpart which had a free-labor economy. However, this could not prosper for long. The Civil War of 1860 brought the practice to an end leading to the 13th amendment. Despite that, a loophole had to be created that still has an impact to date.

Civil Rights movement - 1964-1965 Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act

The facts presented in the movie 'the 13th' are very true considering the 1964-1965 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Why were these acts being passed? It was because the 13th amendment had some loopholes that still gave way for discrimination against African-Americans and Latinos. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had measures to disregard the Jim Crow segregation and outdo racial discrimination. It barred acts of discrimination in areas like education, jobs, housing, and public facilities. An employment commission was created to ensure a fair recruitment process and even help local communities with civil rights issues. However, this isn't happening even now, especially looking at 'the 13th 'movie.

Another legislation that gives weight to the message in 'the 13th 'movie is the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This legislation did away with barriers for blacks in the South. There were supposed to be no more poll taxes, literacy tests and any other measures that could prevent African American from voting according to their will. The US attorney general was given the mandate to registers all the black voters in the South. The federal government would then be responsible for administration and supervision of elections in districts. By 1966, there over half a million registered voters who were black. By 1968, more than four hundred black people had been elected to office.

Even though this legislation transformed political power in the South, much has not been achieved concerning the plight of blacks. Considering the events in the documentary, blacks are still viewed as criminals and sometimes suffer in the hands of the police when they express a different opinion. A good example that shows much has not changed is the attempt by segregationists to prevent the implementation of federal civil rights legislation at the local level.

From the three sub-topics and perspectives, what do we learn from the movie 'the 13th'? DuVernay has put together 150 years of American history into an intimate and precise presentation to tell everyone about the racial inequality that has evolved and become a thorn in the flesh for Americans. Even though many legislations have been passed since the 13th amendment, not much has changed. Blacks still live miserable lives, always being targeted as criminals and missing out on opportunities for jobs and right livelihood.


The movie 'the 13th'is a powerful and intense film that deserves to be seen by many people in the nation of USA. The video can be instrumental in making individuals realize and understand the trauma and frustrations that come with the existence and evolution of racism. The acts of racism have occurred the black community for the last 150 years, making this film very important. It pushes up vigor combined with anger and frustration about the way African-Americans and Latinos have been treated in the history of USA. Despite that, the precise nature of the presentation helps the filmmaker to prevent the fury of injustices from distracting people from the main message.

Work cited

"The Civil Rights Act of 1964 And The Voting Rights Act of 1965". Khan Academy, 2018, https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/postwarera/civil-rights-movement/a/the-civil-rights-act-of-1964-and-the-voting-rights-act-of-1965. Accessed 27 Nov 2018.

Lyne, Charlie. "13Th: Ava Duvernay Offers Up A Devastating History Of Black America". The Guardian, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/08/13th-ava-duvernay-documentary-netflix. Accessed 27 Nov 2018

W, C, and A.J. K.D. "Did Slavery Make Economic Sense?". The Economist, 2013, https://www.economist.com/free-exchange/2013/09/27/did-slavery-make-economic-sense. Accessed 27 Nov 2018.


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13th Amendment of the Constitution. (2022, Oct 06). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/13th-amendment-of-the-constitution

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