3 Presidents and Race Relations

Before John Adams was president, he drafted the state constitution for Massachusetts. In it, he wrote that slavery was a violation of state law. A majority of his fellow delegates approved this provision, and that spelled the end of slavery in Massachusetts. The state could make this transition so easily because its slave population was small, nevertheless it was a special and noteworthy thing. John Adams did not make things perfect for African Americans in Massachusetts, but he made them better.

On the last day of January 1865, Congress approved the 13th Amendment, which declared slavery in the United States unconstitutional. Abraham Lincoln signed the document the next day. It still needed to be approved by 75% of the states to become official, but Lincoln’s signature was an important step. Lincoln needed to focus on the Civil War, but he saw that this matter was too important to wait on. Of course, ending slavery did not solve the racial problems in America, but it was a huge step in the right direction.

In the 1950s, the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in education was unconstitutional. This opened the door for African Americans to go to schools they couldn’t go to before. Some people resisted this. Dwight Eisenhower ordered Arkansas to comply with the decision. When he was ignored, he federalized the Arkansas National Guard, and had them see to it that the Supreme Court’s ruling was enforced there. Things changed.

There will probably be racism for as long as sin exists in the human heart, but in the United States things will get better than they are at the end of May 2020. I base this belief on the fact that things used to be worse than they are today, but we got better. We can keep moving in the right direction.