Involuntary Slavery and Servitude Should Be Prohibited in Louisiana

Newly-elected New Orleans State Rep. Alonzo Knox has gotten off to a fast start by strongly advocating for an important piece of legislation by State Rep. Edmond Jordan to prohibit involuntary slavery and involuntary servitude (HB 211). But the pair are receiving pushback from legislators who cling to Louisiana’s historic past.  

Louisiana has an ugly history of slavery and servitude involving many ethnic groups that goes back more than 300 years. This legislation calls for a statewide constitutional amendment where voters can choose whether to confirm the right to individual dignity and equal protection: 

“Do you support an amendment to prohibit involuntary servitude while not prohibiting an inmate from being required to work when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime?” 

Current law forbids discrimination because of race or religious ideas, beliefs or affiliations, birth, age, sex, culture, physical condition, political ideas or affiliations. The proposed law adds that slavery and involuntary servitude are “forever” prohibited but that the prohibition of involuntary servitude shall not prohibit an inmate from being required to work when the inmate has been convicted of a crime.  

When the legislation was heard in the Civil Law and Procedures Committee on May 9, Knox made a passionate plea for legislators to “send a message that Louisiana recognizes the horror of its past.” He is angry, confused and disgusted that some legislators are trying to “thread the needle” in any way possible and find a “red herring” to keep the current language in Louisiana’s constitution. While calling his fellow legislators “good and decent people,” Knox, a Marine combat veteran, said their behavior was beyond him and should not be the way Louisiana is viewed. Knox has offered to work with opposing legislators to find consensus on the bill. The legislation is scheduled for a fiery debate on the House floor on Wednesday, May 17. 

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *