One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln announced that emancipation was coming. In one hundred days, four million men and women, boys and girls would be declared “thenceforward, and forever free.” Written from the midst of a desperate civil war, Lincoln's proclamation could not accomplish the end of slavery on its own. But it was a history-changing moment. Its message of hope and resolve made one thing clear: Slavery would not stand.
Emancipation was coming.
One hundred and fifty years later, we face the evils of slavery once more. This slavery is not legal, but it is pervasive. It is not limited by location, but stretches around the globe. It reaches into our cities, our towns, our streets and highways. It preys on the poorest of the poor, where millions struggle to survive, and yet it prospers in our centers of wealth as well. To our horror, the evils of slavery find opportunity in our largest thoroughfares and amidst our greatest celebrations. From Los Angeles to Oklahoma City, from Disney World to the Super Bowl, running in networks around the globe, approximately 27 million men and women, boys and girls are stolen, transported, trafficked, and enslaved.
This cannot stand.
We here today, 150 years after Lincoln, stand together to make our own proclamation. We address it to you who are held in bondage. You were not made for slavery. Your bodies, your minds, your hearts, your souls, were formed in the image of God. You were created to know your God-given freedom, and to live it with joy and purpose. We commit ourselves to help bring the freedom that is yours.
We know that a proclamation is not enough. It is a beginning. From this day, we will renew our efforts. Like the abolitionists of old, we will speak and write, work and pray, educate and organize, to transform our own historical moment and see you set free.
Do not lose hope.
Emancipation is coming.
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