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The challenge handed down to us from the start | by sniggie
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The challenge handed down to us from the start

Artist: Nari Ward (Jamaican born 1963, American)

Title: We the People (2011)

Material: shoelaces

Venue: Speed Art Museum, University of Louisville, Kentucky


Who are the “people”?


In the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, "We the People" has no identification of only people who have land, only people of white Anglo-Saxon heritage, European heritage, only Protestants, only Christians, or only men. As Abraham Lincoln would later say this is a government for the people, by the people, and of the people.


Most governments around the world are comfortable with the inclusion of minorities as long as a set apart elite group can consistently dominate them. There's nothing exceptional about that. However, our preamble tells us that our government is built for all the people*, even if we are short-sighted on exactly who we call people. The "people" and their government are needed to meet the numerous challenges in that same sentence of the Preamble. There is an ideal that conceptually gnawed at our Founding Fathers. That is to say that the inclusion of all was necessary for a more perfect union, justice, and even our own domestic tranquility.


The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution states:


"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America"


This government of the people, for the people, and by all people is quite a challenge and quite an experiment in world history.


*Note: Outside of the Preamble, an electoral system was set up in the Constitution that slaves (blacks) were to be counted as 3/5ths of a man when allocating Southern states' electoral votes. It was a bottom-line condition of approval by Southern states of the Constitution and entering the United States because southerners were wary that the North would eventually overrule the institution of slavery. That old 3/5ths rule said elsewise for blacks as people. After domestic tranquility was shattered with the bloody Civil War, blacks were counted as 5/5ths of a person for Southern states. The white South soon realized that they had even more power than before once they figured out how to be boosted in power by the count of blacks in their districts but to silence black votes through the creation of Jim Crow laws.

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Taken on May 23, 2021