On February 7, 2013, approximately 150 years to the date when President Abraham Lincoln delivered his ‘Emancipation Proclamation”, the State of Mississippi at long last joined the rest of the United States of America in having officially ratified the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution which outlawed slavery. The Amendment was first passed by Congress in 1864 and ratified by the 3/4 states required for it to become federal law, with Georgia’s ratification in 1865. Before Mississippi, Kentucky had been the last state to ratify in 1976. Mississippi had in fact voted to ratify the Amendment in 1995, but failed to properly notify the federal archivist, thereby rendering it unofficial.
Incidentally, it took an Indian immigrant to call this oddity to attention when a professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. Ranjan Batra, found an asterisk by Mississippi’s name on the U.S. Constitutional website stating they had never been officially notified of Mississippi’s vote in the state’s house and senate. Bastra notified a body donation specialist at his University by the name of Ken Sullivan of his discovery. Sullivan, upon Bastra’s recommendation, brought his family to a screening of Steven Spielberg’s latest film, “Lincoln“, where the entire audience erupted in a standing ovation at the film’s end. The film motivated him to contact Mississippi’s current Secretary of State Hosemann and urged him to file paperwork on 1995’s vote for submission to the Federal Archivist. On February 7, it became official.
Everyone involved seemed very happy about the role the “Lincoln” movie played in this long overdue occurrence, causing some media outlets to write headlines such like “Lincoln Abolishes Slavery – Again“. Former Mississippi Secretary of State Molpus, who was in office when the state’s congress voted on the matter in 1995, declared the film was “one of the most inspirational films I’ve ever seen.” It is rather interesting to note, however, that the movie “Lincoln”, which involved a bunch of white people sitting around discussing slavery, should inspire a state to finally see to it that they’re on the record being against slavery, whereas films depicting the actual evils of slavery on African Americans, like “Roots“, “Amistad”, or “A Woman Called Moses”, weren’t able to provoke the same reaction.
Below is a picture of UMC’s Sullivan posing with his family. Presumably his daughter is holding the official notification of the 13th Amendment’s ratification. Perhaps Dr. Batra should next inform Mr. Sullivan that behind them in this very same picture is the Mississippi State flag, which includes within it the flag of the Confederate States of America, who made it clear in its own Constitution its absolute commitment to preserving white supremacy. It’s time for it to go as well.