(Clarion Ledger) -- Oscar-nominated "Lincoln," which depicts the political fight to passthe 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, played a role in Mississippiofficially ratifying the amendment this month - a century and a halflater.
The story opens, not surprisingly, in a movie theater.
LastNovember, Dr. Ranjan Batra, associate professor of neurobiology andanatomical sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, sawthe Steven Spielberg film and wondered afterward what happened when thestates voted on ratification.
Thatnight, Batra - a native of India who became a U.S. citizen in 2008 -went on the usconstitution.net website, learning the rest of the story.
After Congress voted for the 13th Amendment in January 1864, the measure went to the states for ratification.
OnDec. 6, 1865, the amendment received the three-fourths' vote it neededwhen Georgia became the 27th state to ratify it. States that rejectedthe measure included Delaware, Kentucky, New Jersey and Mississippi.
Inthe months and years that followed, states continued to ratify theamendment, including those that had initially rejected it. New Jerseyratified the amendment in 1866, Delaware in 1901 and Kentucky in 1976.
Butthere was an asterisk beside Mississippi. A note read: "Mississippiratified the amendment in 1995, but because the state never officiallynotified the US Archivist, the ratification is not official."
The next day, Batra spoke with Ken Sullivan, an anatomical material specialist for UMC's body donation program.
WhenBatra mentioned Mississippi had never ratified the amendment, Sullivanresponded that he remembered state lawmakers had voted to ratify theamendment in 1995, when he was a senior at Crystal Springs High School.
Batra shared what he had read online, and Sullivan started researching.
Hetelephoned the National Archives' Office of the Federal Register,confirmed Mississippi had yet to officially ratify the amendment andfound out what paperwork was needed.
Thatweekend, Sullivan took his wife, Kris, to see "Lincoln," which detailsthe 16th president's fight to abolish slavery once and for all.
"People stood up and applauded at the end of it," he said. "That's the first time I ever saw an audience do that."
Sullivan had tears in his eyes, overwhelmed.
Heknew he would do what he could to ensure his native state officiallyratified the amendment. "I felt very connected to the history," he said.
Hetracked down a copy of the 1995 Senate resolution, introduced by stateSen. Hillman Frazier, D-Jackson, who had been upset to learn Mississippiwas the only state that had never ratified the 13th Amendment.
The resolution passed both the Mississippi Senate and House.
"It was unanimous," Frazier recalled. "Some didn't vote, but we didn't receive a 'nay' vote."
The last paragraph of the resolution called on the secretary of state to send a copy to the Office of the Federal Register.
Why the copy was never sent in 1995 remains unknown.
"Whatan amendment to have an error in filing," said Dick Molpus, who servedthen as secretary of state. "Thanks to Ken Sullivan for being a goodcitizen in bringing this oversight to light, so it can be corrected."
That "Lincoln" played a role pleases him, he said. "It was one of the most inspirational movies I've ever seen."
Afterseeing the film, Sullivan contacted the office of Secretary of StateDelbert Hosemann, who agreed to file the paperwork and make it official.
OnJan. 30, Hosemann sent the Office of the Federal Register a copy of the1995 Senate resolution, adopted by both the Mississippi Senate andHouse.
On Feb. 7,Charles A. Barth, director of the Federal Register, wrote back that hehad received the resolution: "With this action, the State of Mississippihas ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the UnitedStates."
Frazier remarked, "We're very deliberate in our state. We finally got it right."
Hosemann said he is glad to see the chapter closed, adding, "It was long overdue."
On Wednesday, he met with Sullivan and his family.
Thatsame day, Sullivan introduced his daughters to state government, justas his father, Dale T. Sullivan, deputy director of the MississippiAssociation of School Superintendents, had done for him decades earlier.
Tobe a part of something historic, to see the 13th Amendment finallyratified pleases Sullivan. "Now it's officially filed and recorded," hesaid. "There's no asterisk by Mississippi any more."