Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Celebrate Juneteeth, end slavery.

Today is Juneteenth, my favorite holiday. It marks the "end" of slavery in the United States in 1865 and feels particularly relevant because is linked, at least peripherally, to my great-great-granddaddy, Griffin Henry Belk.

But one cannot honestly celebrate Juneteenth these days without recognizing the slavery is not over in the United States or elsewhere. Today there are more people enslaved than at any time in human history. Many of those enslaved are women and girls; many are in the United States.

I often wonder why so many people sat idly by while people enslaved other people like my great grandparents and great-great-grandparents. Many of those people knew slavery wasn't right, wasn't just, but they did nothing. How will history look at us during this time? What are we doing to end slavery?

Here are some things you can do:

* Learn more about human trafficking (slavery). There are numerous websites where you can get reliable information. Try the FBI, DHHS, DHHS, or the New York Times.

* Learn the indicators of modern slavery and report suspected trafficking. The Department of Homeland Security tells you how to do this.

* Get involved. There are numerous organizations dedicated to ending slavery in the US and around the world.

* Spread the word. Post on Facebook. Tweet. Blog. Talk with those you know about what you've learned. Encourage them to get involved.

If you do, perhaps history will look kindly upon us.

"In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free - honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just - a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless." Abraham Lincoln's Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862.