By Matthew Newman
The date was Jan. 1, 1863, and Abraham Lincoln had just signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This executive order declared all slaves in the rebellious confederate states to be free and laid the groundwork for the 13th Amendment, which eventually made slavery a federal crime. Slavery, in the legal sense of the word, was abolished, and abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison were rejoicing in their success over injustice.
Fast forward a century, and a man by the name of Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have A Dream Speech” on a march on Washington, attempting to gain equality for all people, regardless of color, race, sex or any other differences one man might have from another. This same man also once said the words, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Today, there is a threat to justice everywhere that people refuse to acknowledge or simply know nothing about, and it is what I call “Modern Day Slavery.” 150 years after slavery became illegal by law, slavery still thrives, and it is in fact growing. The United Nations estimates there are approximately 27 million people enslaved in our world today. That is a startling number on its own, but it is even more startling to hear that this amount is the largest it has ever been in history — even when slavery was completely legal around the world.
The government labels this crime as human trafficking, and although they are fully aware of the issue, they can only do so much to stop it. This is because most of the public, including a large majority of the people viewing this article, know nothing about this injustice occurring every day.
As college students, we have a history of shining light on important social issues of our day, such as the collegiate abolitionists of the 1860s, the civil rights advocates of the 1960s and also the fight against the Vietnam War in the 1970s. All of these events were influenced heavily by passionate college students, just like you, who understood that it was up to them to change the way their generation and future generations would view the issue in front of them. It is now our turn to be the ones to change our world around us.
I have started a club here at the College called Project Stay Gold, which is dedicated to fighting the injustice that is human trafficking. As modern-day abolitionists, we raise awareness for the issue and empower others to take action alongside us to stop this crime from stealing the innocence of children all around the world.
If you are interested in being a modern-day abolitionist, join us at our first meeting of the semester on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the couches on the second level of the student center, or email us any questions that you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This issue truly matters — so don’t allow yourself to be silent about it.