Originally published on The Human Trafficking Project:
Today marks the culmination of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. President Obama proclaimed January, 2010 to be dedicated to promoting anti-trafficking work. On February first, the United States honors the signing of the resolution that formally abolished the legality of slavery in the United States on February 1st, 1865.
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution proclaimed that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude. . . shall exist within the United States." Though 145 years have passed, slavery continues to flourish and more people are enslaved today than ever before. Nevertheless, Freedom Day honors an important milestone for eradicating slavery and acknowledging the fundamental aberration of the crime. The day also serves as an opportunity for anti-trafficking organizations and activists to revitalize their work.
As President Obama stated in his proclamation "The United States was founded on the principle that all people are born with an unalienable right to freedom -- an ideal that has driven the engine of American progress throughout our history. As a Nation, we have known moments of great darkness and greater light; and dim years of chattel slavery illuminated and brought to an end by President Lincoln's actions and a painful Civil War. Yet even today, the darkness and inhumanity of enslavement exists. Millions of people worldwide are held in compelled service, as well as thousands within the United States. . . [W]e acknowledge that forms of slavery still exist in the modern era, and we recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade."
National Freedom Day is an opportunity to honor and remember the important work to eradicate slavery that has been done and to recommit efforts to deliver on the 13th Ammendment's declaration that slavery shall not exist in the United States, while expanding that promise so that slavery does not exist anywhere in the world.
By Jennifer Kimball