Prior to watching the film I knew a lot about the US history, its most significant events, especially the ones that took place during the last two centuries. However, after watching “Slavery by Another Name” I discovered a number of facts that made me change the understanding of certain parts of the history and reevaluate the way the world and the US in particular evolved and developed.
The USA is a great country that survived both civil war and the war for its own independence. This film showed that the abolition of slavery took place only in theory. Formally there were no more slaves, but the possibilities of the freed African Americans were rather limited. They were dominated by the white population, especially by their former owners, e.g. farmers, coal mine or steel factory owners. Southern states’ governments tolerated the unfair treatment of African Americans, issuing laws and bills, restricting them from normal life and turning it into survival. Meanwhile Northern states did not interrupt, remaining neutral to the problem.
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Thirteenth Amendment abolished the slavery, except for the cases of punishment for the crime. Southern local governments used it, along with the abusive, biased laws, targeted at African Americans, as these laws allowed charging them with a number of previously minor violations, which were now considered felony, leading to imprisonment. Prisoners were used for different kind of works at the coal mines, factories or farms, basically replacing the slaves that were doing all the hard work before. Slavery got a new shape, but was not eliminated yet.
It was only after the time the World War II commenced that President Roosevelt issued circular 3591, calling for the federal attorneys to prosecute all cases of slavery, looking forward to the ultimate goal – making African Americans feel the Government was taking care of them and their rights. Right after one farmer from Texas was put to the federal prison for keeping an African American a slave for over 15 years. This became the beginning of the end, since the system of justice undertook the necessary changes. Nowadays things are way better, however the government should always be cautious to the people who tend to find a back door in the legal system and use it against the others.