Student Advocacy Leads to CT’s “13th Amendment Day” Proclamation

Student Advocacy Leads to CT’s “13th Amendment Day” Proclamation

Hartford Public High School history teacher, Bobby Abate clarifies, “The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 only freed slaves in the southern states and the Juneteenth Celebration recalls when slaves in Texas, in June of 1865, finally heard the news that the war was over. It was not until December 6th, 1865, with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, that slavery legally ended in the United States.”

Hartford Public High School senior, Darren Mack and Mr. Abate (pictured above) lead the social activism project called the December 6th Project which commemorates the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution; the abolition of slavery. For two years the pair has been working to promote this cause for recognition and to affect change in the State of Connecticut.

After her collaboration with Darren and Mr. Abate, Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez, Minority Leader of the Court of Common Council,  introduced a resolution on December 10, 2018 calling for December 6th of each year to be an official day of celebration and reflection in the city of Hartford. It passed unanimously. On February 19, 2019, at the Legislative Office Building, Darren and Mr. Abate testified at the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus Forum, urging lawmakers to support their cause.

With Darren Mack’s strong advocacy and the help and guidance of Hartford Minority Leader to the Court of Common Council Wildaliz Bermudez, State Representative Joshua Hall, HPHS students, and Mr. Abate, Senate Bill 1091 was signed into law as Public Act 19-152 on July 9, 2019, thus proclaiming December 6th of each year to be Thirteenth Amendment Day in the State of Connecticut.

Left to right, HPHS history teacher, Bobby Abate, State Representative Joshua Hall, HPHS Principal Kiaundra Smith, and student leader, Darren Mack hold copies of Public Act 19-152.

On December 6, 2019, the second annual commemoration took place at Hartford Public High School’s Media Center. Speakers included Hartford Public High School students, Jaden Ward, Brihalia Kenton, and Darren Mack, Principal Kiaundra Smith, and Hartford Public High School graduates State Representative Joshua Hall, City Councilman John Gale, and teacher Bobby Abate.



The HPHS Chorus, led by Lisa Clayton, added three inspirational songs to the program. A plaque (of the model shown in above image) will be made and installed and a tree will be planted on the school grounds in the spring of 2020 to honor this important work and remembrance.


Darren Mack has applied to 20 colleges and universities and awaits news.


You can watch the commemoration event here. Listen to the powerful words of student, Darren Mack at 00:25:00 in the below video.

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Wildaliz Bermudez was out-of-state for the commemoration and posted on Twitter: