Tennessee State Representative Sam Whitson 2022

Tennessee State Representative Sam Whitson

The Vote Yes on 3 campaign, which aims to remove slavery from the Tennessee Constitution, announced its bipartisan advisory board of state officials on Monday. 

This group of Republican and Democratic leaders are working together to build broad statewide support ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, according to a press release. 

Currently the Tennessee Constitution reads, “That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited by this State.”

If Amendment 3 passes, the “exception language” will be removed and replaced with the following language, “That slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited in this State. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.”

“When I served as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I became aware of the travesty that modern slavery today affects more than 27 million people worldwide. Working with others we passed legislation to begin to counter this in a more effective way.” said Bob Corker, former US Senator and Vote Yes on 3 Advisory Board Member.

“I think it is more than timely to strike any reference to slavery from our state constitution and I appreciate the work of those leading the effort to do so.”

The Vote Yes on 3 Advisory Board includes local, state and federal officials from each of the Grand Divisions includes Republican Williamson County state representative Sam Whitson. 

Other members include: 

  • Former US Senator Bob Corker
  • Comptroller Jason Mumpower
  • Mayor John Cooper (Nashville)
  • Mayor and Former Leader Craig Fitzhugh (Ripley)
  • Mayor Lee Harris (Shelby County)
  • Mayor Glenn Jacobs (R-Knox County)
  • Mayor Tim Kelly (I-Chattanooga)
  • Mayor Indya Kincannon (Knoxville)
  • Mayor Jim Strickland (D-Memphis)
  • Leader Karen Camper (D-Memphis)
  • Former Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga)
  • Chairman Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville)
  • Chairman Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby)
  • Sen. Raumesh Akbari, Co-Chair (D-Memphis)
  • Rep. Rebecca Alexander (R-Jonesborough)
  • Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville)
  • Rep. Mark Cochran (R-Englewood)
  • Rep. Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville)
  • Rep. Bob Freeman, Co-Chair (D-Nashville)
  • Rep. John Gillespie (R-Memphis)
  • Sen. Brenda Gilmore, Treasurer (D-Nashville)
  • Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis)
  • Rep. Darren Jernigan (D-Nashville)
  • Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville)
  • Sen. Sara Kyle (D-Memphis)
  • Rep. Rev. Dr. Harold Love, Jr. (D-Nashville)
  • Rep. Eddie Mannis (R-Knoxville)
  • Rep. Larry Miller (D-Memphis)
  • Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville)
  • Rep. Jason Powell (D-Nashville)
  • Former Rep. Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville)
  • Sen. Paul Rose (R-Covington)
  • Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon)
  • Rep. Mike Stewart (D-Nashville)
  • Rep. Joe Towns, Jr. (D-Memphis)
  • Sen. Page Walley (R-Bolivar)
  • Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis)
  • Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) 

“There is absolutely no place in the world where slavery should exist, and certainly not within the Tennessee State Constitution” said Rep. Bob Freeman, Co-Chair of the Yes On 3 Advisory Board. “I am honored to work with my Republican and Democratic colleagues who overwhelmingly share the common belief that 'Words Matter.' This vote is not about left or right, it’s about right or wrong.”

The resolution that allowed the amendment to be placed on the ballot passed the legislature with "tremendous" bipartisan support each of the past two legislative sessions, says the release. 

This effort paved the way for voters to be able to cast the deciding vote this November.

In order for a Yes on 3 vote to count, the voter must also cast a ballot in the Governors race, which is required under Tennessee law.

It doesn’t matter who the voter chooses for governor, they just have to cast a vote for governor and YES on Amendment 3 if they wish to support the amendment, says the release. 

“Over the next several months, we’ll be educating our constituents about this non-partisan referendum to finally rid our constitution of relic slavery language that predates the passage of the 13th Amendment,” said House Republican Chairman Jeremy Faison. “While Republicans and Democrats might disagree on a lot of things, we can all agree that forced slavery and indentured servitude have no place in Tennessee.”

The release says the Yes on 3 campaign will be organizing outreach across the state and encouraging all candidates in the general election to voice their public support for this historic referendum.

Several other states will be voting on similar measures this November, including Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Vermont and Oregon.