Vermont has serious issues to address in terms of racial justice, equity and diversity. Not unlike the rest of the nation, this issues exist as a result of our racist national past. They live in our racist national present. Officials have made progress in identifying the challenge and beginning the process to address it through Act 54 (2017) and Act 9 (2018). Now more is required of us. Now is the time to do the hard work of deconstructing the foundation of institutionalized racism in Vermont – our constitution.

Then we must work diligently each day to seek out, identify and course correct the statutes, rules and institutions that continue to perpetuate disparities and hurt people 245 years after our constitution promised us that “all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” See more on the #AbolishSlaveryVT Campaign here.

Slavery Still Exists in Vermont

While Vermont was the first state to include a prohibition on slavery in its Constitution in 1777, it was only a partial prohibition, applicable to adults reaching a certain age, “unless bound by the person’s own consent, after arriving to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.” The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1865, prohibited slavery within the United States “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted[.]” Despite subsequent revisions to it, the Vermont Constitution continues to contain only a partial prohibition on slavery.

The Vermont Raical Justice Alliance is partnering with the Abolish Slavery National Network to clarify the prohibition on slavery and indentured servitude as proposed in bill PR.2.

For more information check out the resources below!

Juneteenth 2021: Mark Hughes – Abolish Slavery in Vermont

Abolish Slavery Vermont Learning Session