The Washington State Senate passed a resolution Friday to commemorate the end of slavery in America and the 156th anniversary of the post-Civil War era known as Reconstruction.
Senate Resolution 8611, sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, coincides with National Freedom Day, which honors President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the congressional resolution for the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Although signed on Feb. 1, 1865, the 13th Amendment was not ratified until 11 months later on Dec. 1, 1865.
“We must never forget the struggle our nation went through in order to gain freedom for African-Americans and rebuild the South after the abolition of slavery,” said O’Ban. “The Civil War tore our nation apart, but it allowed us to rebuild on a foundation of civil rights, which others, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have worked toward for generations.”
In addition to the abolition of slavery, Reconstruction also brought forth the 14th Amendment, which gave citizenship to former slaves and guaranteed equal protection under the law, and the 15th Amendment, which gave citizens the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
During Reconstruction, roughly 2,000 African-Americans were elected to office, including to the United States Senate.
“The fight for equality isn’t over. We still have work to do, but remembering the history of the Civil War and the Republican efforts in Reconstruction remind us how important civil rights are to the future of our country,” said O’Ban.