What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?
I answer: a day that reveals to him,
more than all other days in the year,
the gross injustice and cruelty
to which he is the constant victim. …
–Frederick Douglass (July 5, 1852)
As we celebrate this 4th of July and the ideals of freedom and liberty that this country embodies, may we remember that there is much work yet to be done.
“Freedom” does not look the same for every citizen of this nation. And certainly for those being trafficked this day, there is no holiday nor celebration of their individual freedom.
In the “Land of the Free,” too many of our children find themselves in the modern-day slavery we call human trafficking.
To be sure, there are distinctions between the slavery of the 1800s and that which exists today, but Frederick Douglass’ speech on “What to the Slave is the 4th of July” still resonates today:
…Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. … You may rejoice, I must mourn.
…Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery…!
Thirteen years later, Douglass spoke prophetically about the importance of continuing anti-slavery work even after its “official” end, saying,
They would not call it ‘slavery’, but some other name. Slavery has been fruitful in giving itself names… and it will call itself by yet another name; and you and I and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume…
A century-and-a-half later, we celebrate this Independence Day, knowing there are still those within our borders who are not free. On this day of celebrating, may you take time to reflect on the immeasurable distance between us and those who are still enslaved.
On this day of celebrating, won’t you take a moment to Give Freedom, helping us move one step closer to making freedom for all a reality? Your support of our prevention, intervention and survivor services enables us to take these steps closer to freedom:
- Training of new mentors this August to meet the ever-increasing number of referrals to our mentoring program for survivors and at-risk youth
- Supporting our first Open Table to surround a survivor on her journey of restoration
- Pursuing opening of the first specialized home in Maryland for victims who are minors