Dale Hanaman explains how 3 Amendments helped move America beyond its slave-holding history

JEFFERSON, Iowa, Feb. 14, 2022 — Dale Hanaman, of rural Rippey, a retired United Methodist minister and advocate for civil rights and social justice, will present a program on Sunday, Feb. 20, at 2 p.m. at the Greene County Historical Museum in Jefferson, on the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution — what inspired them, the impact they had in the late 19th century and ever since.

The program is especially fitting during “Black History Month,” which is observed in February.

Dale Hanaman

Those three remarkable changes in law are sometimes called the “Civil Rights Amendments” or the “Reconstruction Amendments.”

States ratified the 13th Amendment in 1865, formally abolishing slavery across the U.S.; the 14th in 1868, granting citizenship to all born or naturalized in the U.S., including those formerly enslaved, and granting all “equal protection” under the law, and the 15th in 1870, prohibiting states from disenfranchising voters “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Hanaman said his understanding of the importance of the three amendments has been enhanced by the book “The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution,” by Eric Foner, a Columbia University professor who is an authority on American history.

“It’s important to consider how the United States began to move away from holding slaves against their wills,” Hanaman said.

“It is often difficult now to recognize that former slaves were men, women and children with thoughts, hopes, desires, and dreams. But they were held as ‘property.’ For decades after that, we continued to insult these people by ‘redlining’ where homes and apartments would be available for them to own or rent, limiting job opportunities, and denying equal education for their children.”

Hanaman said his program, like Foner’s book, will “re-visit our past as a nation and understand the attempt we made through these three Constitutional Amendments to act differently” toward former slaves and their descendants.

The program is free, and the refreshments are, too.

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