Honor yesterday’s slaves by helping their modern counterparts

A boy participates in a Miami rally to raise awareness of human trafficking. (© AP Images)

With the stroke of a pen, President Abraham Lincoln used an executive order to transform the American Civil War from a fight over political sovereignty to a struggle to abolish slavery. January 1 marks the day in 1863 when his Emancipation Proclamation came into effect, declaring that all slaves held in the rebellious southern U.S. states were free.

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation transformed the purpose of the American Civil War. (© AP Images)

Today, there are approximately 21 million victims of human trafficking and forced labor around the world. These men, women, and children can be found in sweatshops, farm labor, the commercial sex industry, domestic work, restaurants, hotels, construction work, and other low-wage industries.

When President Obama observed the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in 2013, he urged people to rededicate themselves to stopping “one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time.”

Modern-day slaves can be found almost anywhere. You can help by learning the red flags that indicate who they are and how you can assist them. You can also become a more conscientious consumer by visiting Slavery Footprint to determine “How many slaves work for you?” For more ideas, also visit 20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking.