As we are nearing the end of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, MLK Day rolls around once again and while most of us are grateful for the momentary reprieve from the job or the classroom, I wonder how much time we’ll actually take today to “celebrate” the man that Martin Luther King Jr. was.
If you have a second, I’d love to honor this man with you by recalling his activism, his legacy, and then similarly contemplating what he would be fighting for if he were not a victim of 1968’s hate and violence.
photo by DiscoverBlackHeritage on Flickr
Through nonviolent activism, Dr. King was instrumental in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For his works of nonviolence and humanitarianism about racial prejudice, King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Four years later, Dr. King was assassinated in April of 1968.
If he were here today, I wonder what Dr. King would have said about the fact that slavery still exists on the very land that he fought and died on. I wonder what he would say if he knew that not all citizens shared equal rights today. I can imagine his anger would drive him to speak, protest, and advocate with his every breath.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, so here we are today….celebrating the life of a man who fought injustice in our country, while simultaneously raising awareness that we are not done yet. We have not arrived. Not all people have rights. Not all people are free.
I don’t think that folks wake up and consciously think: “Today, I’m going to focus on demeaning someone, or say, how about I mix in a little discrimination into my schedule right after lunch?” But I do think silence, passive as it may be, is evil too. Dr. King said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Globally, we estimate there are currently around 27-30 million slaves. US law defines trafficking as: “An ACT or attempted act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person by means of force, abduction, fraud, coercion, purchase, sale, threats, abuse of power for the purpose of exploitation.” In 2011, 85 counties in Tennessee saw trafficking cases, with Nashville nearing the top of the list with over 100 cases of minor sex trafficking and 100 cases of adult sex trafficking. (Here are some more facts)
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Dr. King.
So what can we do in the face of such injustice and inequality? How can we nonviolently fight against violence?
We must look inside ourselves and stop being so afraid of our neighbor because fear causes hate. Then we must persist.