The news about Mississippi failing until this year to ratify the 13th Amendment, banning slavery, just got more interesting.
Commenter @Sylvain writes about having worked as a journalist covering then Mississippi Secretary of State Dick Molpus, who took the heat for failing to send in the paperwork after the legislature voted for ratification in 1995. Nationally, Molpus looked like the white, Southern Secretary of State who messed up the anti-slavery amendement. But at home in Mississippi, Molpus is known for having taken a stand for equality and justice in a way that cost him politically. @Sylvain notes his record on that, and writes:
As for this registration issue, yes, in the end, the buck stops with him. But if you get the chance to visit a secretary of state’s office, you will see that it’s more than one guy and maybe a secretary or two. It’s a huge operation charged with such tasks as certifying corporations and securing business filings. Go one day and get an education.
@Sylvain’s point – that a Secretary of State’s office is not just one person – turns out to be quite salient. Reporter Jerry Mitchell of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger circled back yesterday for an interview with the Assistant Secretary of State who says she mailed in the paperwork, and if you want to blame anyone, blame her. Constance Slaughter-Harvey was herself a veteran of the Civil Rights movement. From Mitchell’s post:
She distinctly remembers sending in the final paperwork in 1995 to have the 13th Amendment ratified, she said. ”That was taken care of. That was important to me.”
Below, video of Slaughter-Henry talking about integrating the law school at Ole Miss. You can see why she’s a local legend, and why she didn’t come this far not to mail in that paperwork. What went wrong is still a mystery, for now, but I suspect we’re getting closer.