Convict Leasing

Be Woke Presents Black History in Two Minutes (or so)

Although the 13th Amendment passed the Senate in 1864 and the House in 1865, the loopholes that exist continue to wreak havoc on the African-American population. To ensure the cotton industry would remain unaffected once the slaves were freed, convict leasing — a system that provides prison labor to plantation owners and private corporations — was implemented. The ramifications of this system continue to this day.

Those who were arrested — even on minor charges — were locked up and used as free labor while behind bars. This also signaled a shift in the racial makeup of prisoners as more African-Americans were targeted by law enforcement. In this series of Black History in Two Minutes or So, more light is shed on the capitalization of private prisons and how African-Americans are used to fuel the profits for America’s criminal justice system.

Executive Producers:
Robert F. Smith
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Dyllan McGee
Deon Taylor

Archival Materials Courtesy of:
Alabama Department of Archives and History Alamy Images Bruce Davidson / Magnum Photos DON HOGAN CHARLES/The New York Times/Redux Getty Images Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Sadie Dayton Photography.

Music by:
Oovra Music

Be Woke presents is brought to you by Robert F. Smith and Deon Taylor.

Be Woke presents is brought to you by Robert F. Smith and Deon Taylor.

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