NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee Republican has falsely declared that an 18th century policy designating a slave as three-fifths of a person was adopted for what he called “the purpose of ending slavery. ”
Tennessee state Rep. Justin Lafferty made the remark Tuesday during a House debate on whether educators should be restricted while teaching about systematic racism in America.
Several Black lawmakers have expressed concerns about the bill’s impact on how certain subjects would be taught in schools, specifically highlighting the Three-Fifths Compromise.
In a statement, the Black Caucus Chair Rep. Antonio Parkinson of Memphis called the comment "alarming," and insulting when other House Republicans clapped for Representative Lafferty.
Read the full statement below:
“Conversations around race are always very uncomfortable in the Tennessee legislature. Rep. Lafferty's statement about how the Three-Fifths Compromise was designed to end slavery was alarming but the real insult was when the House Republicans clapped for him when he finished his diatribe. What I appreciate about his soliloquy is the fact that he gave us his truth, his rationale as to why he was supporting the amendment to force teachers through law to whitewash historical events. This is exactly what needs to happen in our state. There is a need to have a conversation in truth in order to move our state forward. “
The policy was made in 1787 during the nation’s Constitutional Convention. It classified a slave as three-fifths of a person when apportioning taxes and states’ representation in Congress.