The following is a speech by New Orleans activist Ted Quant. Thanks to The Peoples Tribune.
We are here today, standing in an unbroken line of march from slavery to freedom. Every step forward has been met with massive resistance , including legal and extra terror. The for profit prison industrial complex of legalized slavery is the rotten fruit of this history.
Our fight for justice for the victims of the unconstitutional 10-2 verdicts is part and parcel of the fight for freedom. This struggle , like our history, contains the elements of one step forward, two steps back.
We must learn this lesson from the defeat of reconstruction. The victories of reconstruction were followed by its violent terrorism defeat. The white supremacists crowned this victory with the 1898 explicitly racist Louisiana Constitutional Convention and the infamous Supreme Court Plessy V Ferguson decision legalizing segregation. Vagrancy laws were passed that made poverty a crime and poor blacks were rounded up and enslaved in the convict lease system. The 13th Amendment allows slavery for people convicted of crimes.This was the genesis of the modern day system of mass incarceration and prison for profit today.
Not until last year did we win the victory over the 10-2 legacy of the racist 1898 constitutional convention. But that victory is incomplete as people convicted under this racist law are still unjustly incarcerated. They must be freed or given new trials. That is what is just and right and legal.
At the same time, If we are not constantly fighting for our rights , we are losing our rights. Every victory can be reversed. One step forward two steps back is in our history. We must defend this victory and go on the offensive.We must organize and educate and attack with our voted the politicians that attack us with their votes.
We must ask who stand for freeing the unjustly convicted ? Who votes for providing for the needs of the poor ? Who votes for regulations that prevent the environmental poisoning our people? Who votes for medical care as a human right? who fights for the needs of the least of these my brethren?
Our fight for the freedom of the unjustly incarcerated is against the politicians, Black or White , who represent the profiteers of this modern day enslavement of the prisoners of poverty that fill our prisons.
To defeat them we must organize and fight for power. One of our weapons is our right to vote. Today as few as 20% or 30% of the population votes. This means it take only 15% of the voting population, plus 1vote , to rule our lives.
We are a majority for justice and equality. We must seize the time, organize , and take power. Power to the people.