Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Episode 652 (4-3-23): The 14th Amendment and Water-related Civil Rights Claims – Part 1: Introduction to the 14th Amendment (Episode Five of the Series, “Exploring Water in U.S. Civil Rights History”)

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (5:06).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information

Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 3-31-23.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of April 3 and April 10, 2023.  This episode, the fifth in a series on water in U.S. civil rights history, begins an exploration of water connections to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

MUSIC – ~17 sec – instrumental.

That’s part of “Maple Leaf Rag,” composed by Scott Joplin and performed by Zachary Brewster-Geisz.   Scott Joplin, an African American from Texas who became known as the king of ragtime music, was born in 1868.  That year also brought the effective “birth” of the the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in July 1868.  Have a listen to the music for about 20 more seconds, and see if you know four areas of rights addressed by the amendment.

MUSIC – ~22 sec – instrumental.

If you guessed any of these, you’re right: citizenship, privileges and immunities, due process, and equal protection.  Let’s have a listen to the Section 1 of the amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.  No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Other sections of the amendment addressed citizens’ right to vote, insurrection against the United States, Civil War debts and compensation, and finally—of great importance to future civil rights legislation—Congressional authority to enforce the amendment.

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, in a 1987 speech, said the following about the 14th Amendment: quote, “While the Union survived the civil war, the Constitution did not.  In its place arose a new, more promising basis for justice and equality, the 14th Amendment, ensuring protection of the life, liberty, and property of all persons against deprivations without due process, and guaranteeing equal protection of the laws,” unquote.

There may be no more important development in U.S. civil rights history—certainly in its legal history—than passage and ratification of the 14th Amendment.  Interestingly from a water perspective, the first U.S. Supreme Court interpretation of the amendment, in 1873, addressed a law focused on water and public health; about 100 years later, water infrastructure was at issue in another significant federal court claim under the amendment; and water infrastructure is the subject of a 2022 complaint filed under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, for which the amendment is a significant constitutional foundation.  This episode’s overview sets the stage for upcoming episodes on those three 14th Amendment water stories.

Thanks to Zachary Brewster-Geisz for making a recording of “Maple Leaf Rag” available for public use, and we close with about 20 more seconds of that well-known Scott Joplin tune.

MUSIC – ~22 sec – instrumental.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of “Cripple Creek” to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Maple Leaf Rag,” composed by Scott Joplin, was first published in 1899.  The recording heard in this Virginia Water Radio episode was by Zachary Brewster-Geisz, June 2006, made available on Free Music Archive, online at https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Joplin/Frog_Legs_Ragtime_Era_Favorites/03_-_scott_joplin_-_maple_leaf_rag/, as of 4-3-23, for use under Creative Commons Mark 1.0 License – Public Domain; more information on that Creative Commons License is available online at https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.


Photographs of the June 1866 joint resolution in Congress proposing the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Images taken from the National Archives, online at https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/fourteenth-amendment, as of 4/3/23.  The images are made available for use under the Creative Commons license “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International”; more information about that Creative Commons license is available online at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.


The following information about, and text of, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was taken from National Archives, “Milestone Documents: 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868),” online at https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/14th-amendment.

“Following the Civil War, Congress submitted to the states three amendments as part of its Reconstruction program to guarantee equal civil and legal rights to Black citizens.  A major provision of the 14th Amendment was to grant citizenship to ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States,’ thereby granting citizenship to formerly enslaved people.

“Another equally important provision was the statement that ‘nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’  The right to due process of law and equal protection of the law now applied to both the federal and state governments.

“On June 16, 1866, the House Joint Resolution proposing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was submitted to the states.  On July 28, 1868, the 14th amendment was declared, in a certificate of the Secretary of State, ratified by the necessary 28 of the 37 States, and became part of the supreme law of the land.”

Text of 14th Amendment

Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Section 3.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


Used for Audio

Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute:
“U.S. Constitution/14th Amendment,” online at https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv; and
“Fourteenth Amendment,” online at https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fourteenth_amendment_0.

Kayode Crown, “NAACP Files Race Discrimination Complaint Against State Over Jackson Water Crisis,” Mississippi Free Press, September 28, 2022.

Susan Curtis, “Scott Joplin (1868-1917),” Missouri Encyclopedia, undated, online at https://missouriencyclopedia.org/people/joplin-scott.

Ronald M. Labbe and Jonathan Lurie, The Slaughterhouse Cases: Regulation, Reconstruction, and the Fourteenth Amendment, University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, 2003.

Library of Congress, “Scott Joplin,” online at https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200035815/.

Waldo E. Martin, Jr., and Patricia Sullivan, Civil Rights in the United States, Macmillian Reference USA, New York, N.Y., 2000.

Thurgood Marshall Institute, “The 14th Amendment,” online at https://tminstituteldf.org/tmi-explains/thurgood-marshall-institute-briefs/tmi-briefs-the-14th-amendment/.

Linda R. Monk, The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution, Hachette Books, New York, N.Y., 2015.

NAACP, “Celebrate and Defend the Fourteenth Amendment Resolution,” 2013, online at https://naacp.org/resources/celebrate-and-defend-fourteenth-amendment.  (This is the source of the Thurgood Marshall quote used in this episode.)

Smithsonian National Postal Museum, “The Black Experience: African Americans on Postage Stamps/Ragtime: Scott Joplin,” online at https://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibition/the-black-experience-music/ragtime-scott-joplin.

University of Maryland School of Law, “Equal Protection: Is There a Constitutional Right to a Sewer? - Hawkins v. Town of Shaw,Maryland Law Review Vol. 32, Issue 8, Article 1, 1972, available online at http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/mlr/vol32/iss1/8.

U.S. House of Representatives, “Constitutional Amendments and Major Civil Rights Acts of Congress Referenced in Black Americans in Congress,” online at https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-Data/Constitutional-Amendments-and-Legislation/.

U.S. National Archives:
“Milestone Documents: 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868),” online at https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/14th-amendment; and
“Civil Rights Act (1964),” online at https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/civil-rights-act.

U.S. Senate, “Landmark Legislation: The Fourtheenth Amendment,” online at https://www.senate.gov/about/origins-foundations/senate-and-constitution/14th-amendment.htm.

For More Information about Civil Rights in the United States

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), “The Civil Rights Movement in America,” online at https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zcpcwmn/revision/1.

Howard University Law Library, “A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States,” online at https://library.law.howard.edu/civilrightshistory/intro.

University of Maryland School of Law/Thurgood Marshall Law Library, “Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights,” online at https://law.umaryland.libguides.com/commission_civil_rights.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, online at https://www.usccr.gov/.

U.S. National Archives, “The Constitution of the United States,” online at https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “History” subject category.

This episode is part of a series entitled Exploring Water in U.S. Civil Rights History.  As of April 3, 2023, other episodes in the series are as follows.

Series overview – Episode 566, 3-1-21.
Water Symbolism in African American Civil Rights History –
Episode 591, 8-23-21.
Uses of Water By and Against African Americans in U.S. Civil Rights History –
Episode 616, 2-14-22.
Water Places in U.S. Civil Rights History -
Episode 619, 3-7-22.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Civics Theme
3.12 – Importance of government in community, Virginia, and the United States, including government protecting rights and property of individuals.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.9 – How national events affected Virginia and its citizens.

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.9 – Causes, events, and effects of the Civil War.

United States History: 1865-to-Present Course
USII.3 – Effects of Reconstruction on American life.
USII.8 – Economic, social, and political transformation of the United States and the world after World War II.
USII.9 – Domestic and international issues during the second half of the 20th Century and the early 21st Century.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.2 – Foundations, purposes, and components of the U.S. Constitution.
CE.3 – Citizenship rights, duties, and responsibilities.
CE.6 – Government at the national level.
CE.7 – Government at the state level.
CE.10 – Public policy at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia and United States History Course
VUS.7 – Knowledge of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.
VUS.13 – Changes in the United States in the second half of the 20th Century.
VUS.14 – Political and social conditions in the 21st Century.

Government Course
GOVT.3 – Concepts of democracy.
GOVT.4 – Purposes, principles, and structure of the U.S. Constitution.
GOVT.5 – Federal system of government in the United States.
GOVT.7 – National government organization and powers.
GOVT.8 – State and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – Public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT.11 – Civil liberties and civil rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at https://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching-learning-assessment/instruction.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.