Antoinette Harrell: The Slavery Detective of the South Says Slavery Continued Across the South

Slavery never ended on paper or otherwise after the American Civil War. The 13th Amendment which was ratified in 1865 and became part of the US Consitution, did not end slavery by legalized it as a punishment for those “duly convicted” yet most people believe otherwise and instead of recognizing the slavery implemented through the criminal justice system.

However, many white landowners and farmers used violence and intimidation to keep emancipated victims of slavery well into the 20th century. Thousands of black men, women, and children across the South were forced to work against their will as late as the 1960s in the shadows of rural America. This enslavement was in violation of the 13th Amendment as these were not persons convicted of any crimes and sentenced to labor, leased out to farmers, the railroad companies or mines by the prison.

VICE’s Akil Gibbons traveled to Louisiana to meet genealogist Antoinette Harrell, the “slavery detective of the South,” who tracks down cases of modern-day slavery and abusive labor practices. They talk to a man whose family was held on a plantation against their will into the 1950s, and Antoinette explains how she uses decades-old records to uncover how slavery was perpetuated long after the Civil War ended.

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