On the date of July 12 in 1787, the Three-Fifths Rule about African Americans, then an enslaved people in America, was enacted at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The same city of brotherly love where the Democratic Party is holding its 2016 National Convention next week. My wife, a descendent of “three-fifths people”, and other Blacks will be attending who are now whole citizens but are still fighting for equal access, equal rights, and full equality under the constitution which has been amended several times to ensure us of our rights.
In 1787 the delegates were trying to come up with a plan that would determine a state’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The southern states wanted representation apportioned by population, which was heavily populated with Blacks, and the “Three-Fifths Compromise” seemed to be a guarantee that the South would be strongly represented in the House of Representatives after another earlier proposal was defeated. Not only was it about representation but it also was about money, specifically taxes.
The northerners regarded slaves as property that should receive no representation and the southerners demanded that Blacks be counted with Whites. The Three-Fifths Compromise, is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution, which reads:
Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.)
In my estimation this set the foundation that leads us to believe a Black life in America is not as valuable as a White life. That is why people are now saying “Black Lives Matter”. There is a history to that belief and unfortunately some Whites today feel the same way people did in 1787.
Take, for example, remarks from Congressman Steve King this week at the Republican Convention in Cleveland:
“This whole White people business, though, does get a little tired. I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people, meaning Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Indians, that you are talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
Another example of the value of Black people in America is centered on the idea that one drop of Black blood in your lineage makes you Black. This was enacted into law in some southern states and was acted on by most Whites throughout the country and pushed by organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. Dr. F. James Davis of Illinois State University explained it this way:
“The nation’s answer to the question ‘Who is Black?” has long been that a Black is any person with any known African Black ancestry. This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with Jim Crow segregation. In the South it became known as the “one-drop rule,’’ meaning that a single drop of “Black blood” makes a person a Black. It is also known as the “one Black ancestor rule,” some courts have called it the “traceable amount rule,” and anthropologists call it the “hypo-descent rule,” meaning that racially mixed persons are assigned the status of the subordinate group.”
In my way of thinking with that definition the blood of a Black person is more valuable than any other race because it can change another race regardless of the percentage. I am considered Black even though a White slave master was my great great grandfather who fathered my great grandmother Jane McDaniel Williams in 1847.
My point in writing this opinion is to say that Black Lives Matter as well as every human life in America and the world. It is time to put all of the devisive laws out to pasture and begin electing people who have demonstrated a willingness to be inclusive in their own way of living and thinking. And we can start with the upcoming election in November.