CM King, Black Community Call for Recognition Of “Three-Fifths Clause Awareness Day” in NYC

 

Photo Credit: John McCarten, NYCC

Photo Credit: John McCarten, NYCC

NEW YORK — As New Yorkers went about their busy day in the City Hall area on Saturday, a group of community-minded citizens, led by NYC Council Member Andy King, stood in a moment of silence for a purpose.

They called for New York City to recognize March 5th as “Three-Fifths Clause Awareness Day” and for the federal government to negate the 3/5 Clause language in the U.S. Constitution.

Photo Credit: John McCarten, NYCC

Photo Credit: John McCarten, NYCC

“Bringing awareness to the Three-Fifth Clauses is of importance to understanding the current day plight of African-Americans in New York City, said CM King, who will be proposing two legislations in the City Council next week. He organized a news conference at the African Burial Ground National Monument Outside Memorial Area, in City Hall area, where he was joined by Ebony Meeks Laidley, Congress Member Gregory Meeks; Vince Morgan, the Black Institute; Jerome Rice, President of NAACP Co-op City branch, Jay Morrison of Jay Morrison Academy, members of 1199 Women and many others.

In U.S. history, the Three-Fifth Clause (Article 1, Section2, of the U.S. Constitution of 1787) was demanded by Southern supporters of slavery as a way of increasing their congressional representation and political power. They wanted slaves to be counted as full persons but settled on three-fifths. People of African descent would have had no real rights either way.

The three-fifths clause was enforced until the post-Civil War 13th Amendment freed all enslaved people in the United States, the 14th amendment gave them full citizenship, and the 15th Amendment granted black people the right to vote.

However, the “three-fifth clause” language was never removed from the Constitution. One of Council Member King’s legislations calls on the federal government to add an amendment to add language that directly negates the Three-Fifth Clause by stating that African-Americans are 100 percent whole individuals.

 

Photo Credit: John McCarten, NYCC

Photo Credit: John McCarten, NYCC

 

“The systematic disenfranchisement of enslaved African Americans for hundreds of years created a system of sociopolitical inequality, the effects of which are still felt today. Subliminally, some members of society do not respectfully embrace African-Americans as whole human beings, equal to anyone in education, inventions, finance and wealth-development, politics and much more,” said Council Member King.

Congress Member Gregory Meeks expressed the importance of the Three-Fifths Clause Awareness Day.

“I congratulate Council Member Andy King for introducing New York City Council legislation that would recognize March 5th as an annual ‘Three-Fifth Clause Awareness Day.’  Although a majority of the delegates to the constitutional convention in 1787 deemed such a compromise as necessary to establishing the United States of America and its system of government, history recognizes Three Fifths Clause was one of the worst of many foundational compromises with slavery.  Awareness of our history — the good, the bad, the ugly — can help us summon the courage and wisdom and unity to make the descendants of slaves whole, which is a precondition for making America whole.”

“It was an offensive clause. How humiliating it is to count a man as three fifths of another? But this is a part of our U.S. history that helped shape some racist behaviors, such as Jim Crow. More people need to be made aware of the Three-Fifth Clause, that it still exists in the U.S. Constitution and let’s do something about it!” said Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference.

On March 9th, at a NYC Council Stated meeting, Council Member King will be introducing his legislations, LS 6687, which calls on the City of New York to declare March 5th as “Three Fifth Clause Awareness Day” and LS 5660, which calls on Congress to add an amendment to the Constitution directly negating the language of Article 1, Section, two Paragraph 3, known as the “three-fifths clause.”

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