Reggie Jackson, griot of the Black Holocaust Museum, did an excellent job of providing a lot of information in a short amount of time during his speech Saturday in La Crosse.

However, judging from conversations I have had about his presentation, there is still the mistaken impression among some that Wisconsin’s Supreme Court found the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional because of an anti-slavery stance. That court based its ruling and reasoning on a “states’ rights” basis as embodied in the 10th Amendment of the U.S. constitution.

It was not a ruling that was meant to stop slavery, and those escaping slavery were only “incidental beneficiaries” of that ruling and only for a very short time.

Wisconsin is the least safe of all U.S. states for black/African-American people, as Mr. Jackson so well explained, including with statistical data. Had this state’s highest court based its decisions regarding the Fugitive Slave Act on the rights of those escaping slavery or on some sort of moral high ground based in law, then perhaps this state would be in a better place as concerns its treatment of black/African-American people and, in general, people of color.

Deborah Kelly, La Crosse

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