Slavery by another name exposed in Second Saturday Documentary pick, “13th”

documentary-1Academy Award-nominated Director Ava DuVernay draws a line from the constitutional amendment that freed slaves to the disproportionate number of African-Americans in American prisons today in “13th,” to be screened at 1:30 pm, March 11, at Niles Discovery Church. The Second Saturday Documentary Series, is free and open to the public. A discussion will follow the screening.

Section 1 of the 13th Amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

DuVernay, director of “Selma,” interviews historians, sociologists, and the formerly incarcerated who forward the thesis that the economic hardship faced by whites, particularly in the south, when slaves were freed in 1865 was mitigated by the loophole stating slavery could result as punishment for crime.

Using archival photographs and footage, the film documents the criminalization and intimidation of African Americans through lynchings, Jim Crow laws, and popular culture, especially the wildly popular film of 1915, “Birth of a Nation,” that lionized and reinvigorated the Ku Klux Klan.

documentary-2“13th” also looks at inequitable sentencing, particularly for drug offences, which has stuffed American prisons – where 25 percent of the entire world’s incarcerated are held.

The Second Saturday Documentary Series is co-sponsored by Niles Discovery Church and the San Jose Peace & Justice Center. For more information, call 510 797-0895 or visit

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