Sunday, June 19, 2016


Today is Juneteenth, the commemoration of the day the slaves in Texas were freed (; Even though the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the Union on January 1, 1863, slaves in the Confederacy continued to be enslaved. After the surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 (, news spread slowly through the Confederacy. Union soldiers led by General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, and brought the news. There was shock and jubilation. Some slaves left their plantations to find family in other states, or even if they had no where to go. June 19, or Juneteenth has become a time of celebration in the African American community. It is also a time of prayer, and focusing on education and self-improvement. Unfortunately, it is little known among whites in the US, though some suggest it is a second Independence Day (

Unfortunately, June 19, 1865, did not end slavery. It continues to the present day. Walk Free estimates that 45.8 million people continue to be enslaved ( Despite being illegal, slavery exists in nearly every country on earth. This year, attention has been directed to the slaves used in fishing, especially in international waters. One center of this is Thailand (

Forced labor may also continue with governmental support, as is the case of cotton picking in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan ( Brick making and garment making in India also often employ the use of slave labor (

Over half of slaves are women and children. Nearly 1 in 3 victims are children, often trafficked by someone they knew ( Natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Nepal, lead to the trafficking of more children. Closer to home, only last year did Los Angeles County stop arresting children for prostitution, and begin treating them like victims (

So, on this Juneteeth, let us not only remember the past, as all Americans should, but work toward the elimination of slavery throughout the world today.

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