Associate Director for Programs Callie Hawkins wrote this article on the Students Opposing Slavery program at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Originally published on the Preservation Leadership Forum blog.
In February 2012, President Lincoln’s Cottage launched an exhibit on modern slavery called Can You Walk Away? Human Trafficking: Modern Slavery in the United States. Given our history and the work President Lincoln did here developing his ideas around the Emancipation Proclamation, we realized that we have a responsibility to see how far our country has come in the fight for freedom. As a result of this exhibit, PLC began working with a group of four high school juniors who started Students Opposing Slavery (SOS), a grassroots, student-led organization to raise awareness against human trafficking and modern slavery. President Lincoln’s Cottage (PLC) worked with these students in several different capacities and when the founders looked ahead to what would become of SOS when they graduated, they approached PLC about becoming the home base for SOS activity. With them, PLC came up with a plan to host an annual week-long international summit for high school students and developed a strategy for continued engagement with participants throughout the school year. Now two years later, PLC has held two successful SOS International Summits, which engage students from around the globe in the modern fight to end slavery at a place central to our nation’s historical fight against it.
The SOS Summit was developed with three major goals in mind. PLC wanted to: 1) convene a group of high school students from around the world to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery; 2) develop big ideas around ending modern slavery and provide participants the tools they need to continue Lincoln’s fight for freedom in their own communities; and 3) create a global network of young abolitionists. Each Summit has brought its own set of challenges and “a-ha” moments, some of which are shared below. Read the full article.