Abolish Slavery Colorado aims to make history
Abolish Slavery Colorado is an organization dedicated to the passage of Amendment A, which would remove Article II, Section 26 from the Colorado State Constitution. This article allows slavery, or involuntary servitude, in Colorado as punishment for a crime.
Abolish Slavery Colorado’s website describes the organization as a “diverse, grassroots, multi-faith, and bi-partisan coalition of organizations and individuals fighting for human dignity and justice.” Their lists of endorsements include civil rights organizations, such as the ACLU, as well as criminal justice organizations and religious and faith-based organizations, such as the Denver Justice Project and the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.
Kym Ray, who works with the NAACP, is also a member of Abolish Slavery Colorado’s steering committee, which helped craft the language for Amendment A on the ballot. Ray also campaigned for a similar measuring on the November 2016 ballot, called Amendment T, which would have removed a provision in the constitution that allows for criminals to be forced to work without pay or restitution but was narrowly defeated.
Abolish Slavery Colorado states on their website that Amendment T’s confusing language was the reason for its defeat. Ray believes the wording for Amendment A is clearer, as a “yes” vote abolishes slavery in the Colorado Constitution and a “no” vote keeps slavery in the constitution.
Charles Buchanan, a graduate student at CU Denver studying political science, voted for Amendment T in 2016, but believes it failed because of a lack of publicity. When asked if he believes Amendment A will pass in November Buchanan said, “I think more people will know about it this time around.”
When asked if she has met anyone who opposed the measure, Ray said she would be “absolutely shocked” if she crossed paths with someone who wants slavery to remain in the Colorado Constitution. While there have not been any public polls released, Ray, a Colorado native, believes people in Colorado have a “good moral structure,” and Coloradans don’t believe slavery should be a Colorado value.
Buchanan also believes Amendment A will pass in November, but he said he thinks it’s possible some voters will oppose the measure. Buchanan believes that in a divisive political climate, some voters might think “Democrats are for that, so I’m against it.”
Abolish Slavery Colorado insists that the removal of slavery from the Colorado Constitution, aside from being a symbolic vote, will also guarantee that language around “exceptions” in regard to Article II, Section 26 “will never be used or abused in the future.” The organization also cites the prominence of human trafficking in Colorado as a reason the passage of Amendment A is necessary. According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, 2,284 cases of human trafficking occurred in Colorado from 2007–2017.
Ray believes the passage of Amendment A is a step toward “recognizing dignity and humanity in everyone.” She is hopeful that the passage of Amendment A could also improve race relations in Colorado.
The campaign already has the support of Colorado state Reps. Leslie Herod, Jovan E. Melton, and Joseph Salazar, all of whom recently spoke at an event in support of Amendment A. Rep. Melton also was involved in crafting the language for a measure that will appear on the November ballot.
Supporters of Abolish Slavery Colorado believe the passage of Amendment A will be history in the making, as this would be the first time residents of a US state vote to abolish slavery.