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International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade
March 25, 2013
"They will remember that we were sold, but not that we were strong. They will remember that we were bought, but not that we were brave."
William Prescott, former slave
The tragic transatlantic slave trade, which marked one of the darkest chapters in human history, lasted for 400 years, despite a spirited resistance by the millions of enslaved peoples. Often known as the triangular trade, the transatlantic trade connected the economies of three continents. It is estimated that between 15 to 20 million people, men, women and children, were deported from their homes and sold as slaves in the different slave trading systems. The yearly International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade serves not only as an opportunity to reflect on those that suffered and perished at the hands of slavery, it is a day to remember those who resisted even to the point of death. The remembrance also as an occasion to raise awareness to the world’s youth about the dangers of racism and prejudice.
The theme for this year's remembrance, “Forever Free: Celebrating Emancipation,” honors those who worked for the emancipation of slaves in nations across the world. The UN notes several key anniversaries related to emancipation that occur this year, including:
For all the progress, slavery remains with us. Modern-day slavery - human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining by any means any person for forced labor, slavery or servitude in any industry or site such as agriculture, construction, prostitution, manufacturing, begging, domestic service or marriage. More than 20.9 million people are estimated to work in conditions of forced labor world-wide according to the International Labour Organisation.
As we observe the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade, may we rededicate ourselves to following in the footsteps of those who resisted and worked for emancipation. Affirming that Jesus Christ came that “they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b), may we work to end modern-day slavery.
Learn about the work of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Human Trafficking Roundtable. Find action suggestions to work for an end to human trafficking, modern-day slavery.
Additional resources from the UN system.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Thanks to Sera Chung, a student at Princeton Theological Seminary who is serving in a field education placement with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, for work on this post.