The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution

“Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

So, let me start by saying this has to be the blackest last few days ever. Between Solange’s #veryblack album; A Seat at the table (I hope you got this Tidal subscription), with my two favorite tracks, Mad and F.U.B.U., Lucas Cage dropped on Netflix with #superblackness and as you read yesterday Birth of Nation gave us #rebelliousblackness. So I figured we should keep this very black October going with Ava Duvernay’s 13th.


I hope and pray that you have read Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking and very thoughtful book, The New Jim Crow. But, if you haven’t, watching 13th is a really great representation of the book. And it doesn’t hurt that Alexander is one of the many narrators of the documentary.


I can’t tell a lie. I was a little worried about watching 13th after the #rebelliousblackness of Birth of a Nation. I thought it might be a bit psycho-emotionally damaging. But, I, hopefully like you, had read The New Jim Crow last year so the viewing of this wasn’t as destructive. But, let me tell you, if you haven’t read The New Jim Crow, you’re going to need to take a break after reading the 1st two chapters. I took a 30 day break before I could get back to reading.

But, wait, I am digressing.

Let’s talk about 13th, as in the 13th amendment and how this amendment is at the heart of mass incarceration that has been most devastating to poor communities of color, specifically how mass incarceration is modern day slavery for descendants of enslaved Africans.


So, how would we…could we use this documentary in our classrooms? By now you should know your level of Gangsta….and mine.

As I watched,so many thoughts ran through my mind.

Small g: Use this documentary to discuss the 13th amendment and the Constitution. Sections from the film could be used as a precursor to a unit on the “60s.”

Big G: Use this documentary in connection with Election Day and the Right to Vote. (Trust me, there is a lot of red meat for you and your students to feast on.)

OG: I would revise my US History and Government Course based on this documentary. Oh baby, you can cover the The Bill of Rights, The Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, The 60s, Presidents: Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Clinton along with juxtaposing Hillary Clinton and Trump, The 80s and the Black lives Matter movement.


I mean, we can really use this amazing piece of documentarian work to support our students understanding of the current socio-political context and how we got here.

My mind is dizzy with ways to use this in classrooms. Have you ever read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson; also a narrator in the documentary? It would be a great companion piece to watching the film in a Humanities class.


For my STEM teachers I was thinking…(Wait disclaimer, you know I struggle with STEM right, so this will be corny. But I’m here for inspiration, not necessarily well thought out curriculum. Lol!)

Mathematically, we could dig into the numbers behind the story. When you watch the doc, you’ll see what I mean.

Does Social Science count for STEM? If so, yeah, you should already be inspired right?

Music and Art teachers; the soundtrack and imagery throughout the doc can support a great unit on examining systemic oppression through expression. You like that, right?

Cathleen and I are thinking about having a #wokecypha for teachers to dig into all the ways we could use 13th in our classrooms, immediately!

What’s a #wokecypha you ask? We create a real loose unit plan on a topic. You, the woke educator, register, to come to a dope location. We have food, drinks and inspiration. You bring your laptop and tools and together we rock this cypha on 13th. We have teachers and educators from every level come in and hit Bloom’s highest level of Taxonomy; creativity. And we end up with a unit appropriate at all levels and in every content; Pre-school, Elementary, Middle, High, College, Humanities, Stem, The Arts, Language.

Yeah, that the #wokecypha. You down?

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CREAD Commandment #5, states that we must expand our repertoire of resources. This is hot off the presses and will support the critical conscious development of our student and ourselves.

Hey if you are an OG, you can create your own #wokecypha based on this film in your classroom.

As Always,

Deep Thinkers Only!


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