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What Slavery in the U.S. Looks Like Over 150 Years After Being Abolished

On this day in 1865, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment, legally abolishing slavery in the United States. This amendment came two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which sought to free slaves in the South pending a Union victory, and was part of the efforts to abolish slavery permanently.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” ~ 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

All human beings are created by God in His image and, as such, no individual is more or less valuable than any other human being. Slavery is a horrible, dehumanizing institution, and we are incredibly grateful that our country’s leaders took these steps to bring it to an end. The Thirteenth Amendment was a vital and necessary step in the right direction, but unfortunately, over 150 years after being ratified, slavery still remains a widespread problem across the United States.

What Modern Slavery Looks Like

In 2021, there were an estimated 1.1 million people living in modern slavery just in the United States. The United States Department of State defines modern slavery as circumstances in which, “Traffickers compel victims to engage in commercial sex and to work in both legal and illicit industries and sectors, including in hospitality, traveling sales crews, agriculture, janitorial services, construction, landscaping, restaurants, factories, care for persons with disabilities, salon services, massage parlors, retail services, fairs and carnivals, peddling and begging, drug smuggling and distribution, religious institutions, child care, and domestic work.”

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month

As we leave a month dedicated to the prevention of human trafficking and enter a month dedicated to honoring the history of African Americans, we offer a few reminders.

  • It’s never too late to get involved in preventing human trafficking. We’ve assembled a list of five things you can do to get started.
  • Remember that every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This includes those with a different skin color, who speak another language, follow a different religion, and even those who may vote differently than you.
  • Getting involved doesn’t have to be that hard. For example, Dahlia Grove is an organization in Charlotte that empowers and employs women survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual exploitation through their store and community café.

North Carolina currently ranks number nine for the highest rates of human trafficking out of the fifty states. While this ranking is in line with North Carolina being the ninth most populated state, it is still cause for grave concern. We encourage you to join us in continuing the fight to end modern-day slavery.


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