Youth group looking to change slavery language in Kentucky Constitution
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Slavery was abolished in 1865, but it remains on the books in more than a dozen states, including Kentucky.
Section 25 of Kentucky’s Constitution reads:
Slavery and involuntary servitude in this state are forbidden, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
At South Elkhorn Christian Church in Lexington, a group of teens have joined together to lead an effort to change this part of the state’s constitution.
Senior minister at South Elkhorn, Michael Swartzentruber, says at their church, they witness inclusive love and their walls are flooded with people from all walks of life.
”I was preaching a service on Philemon and brought up the issue of slavery and mentioned that slavery still exists on the books in Kentucky in Article 25 of Kentucky’s Constitution, and in a conversation subsequent to that, the youth were inspired, as audacious as it may sound, to do something big, and change the Kentucky Constitution.” Swartzentruber said.
It’s that community that led their youth to take that extra step and stand before state legislators, asking for change.
They already drafted a resolution with the Fayette County Human Rights Commission, and they plan on continuing their activism this legislative session. So far, a handful of teens have spoken at about eight to ten meetings with the Human Rights Commission leader.
“They spoke about the history of this article, the insidious reality that stands behind it, where it was used to target formerly enslaved people and basically create slavery by another name, and how this is something, while it may seem only symbolic, is necessarily a symbolic action to change.” He said.
He says their group is in it for the long haul and hope to help make a change as soon as possible.
“These types of changes don’t happen overnight. There may be some hurdles. There may be some partnerships, new relationships that form, and this is all a part of the beautiful mess that is being in community with each other.” Swartzentruber said.
Ultimately, the decision would lie with Kentucky voters. A proposed constitutional amendment would appear on the statewide ballot for voter ratification after being passed by the Legislature.
Copyright 2023 WKYT. All rights reserved.