By Callie Hawkins, Associate Director for Programs
Bradley Myles of Polaris Project (left) and Callie Hawkins of President Lincoln’s Cottage will depart for a modern slavery awareness trip.
President Lincoln’s Cottage is going to Thailand. Well, sort of.
Obviously, we’re not moving Lincoln’s beloved home to another continent, but we are taking his big ideas abroad. On Friday, I embark on an 18+ hour plane trip for what is sure to be the experience of a lifetime. Far from a vacation, I will spend the next nine days with the supreme honor and tremendous responsibility of continuing Abraham Lincoln’s fight for freedom, as I travel to Southeast Asia on behalf of the Cottage and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Traveling with me are representatives from our friends at Polaris Project, the leading NGO in the U.S. working to combat human trafficking, and Students Opposing Slavery (SOS), a group of incredible local high school students who started their own organization against modern slavery. Our work together on the Cottage’s special exhibit, Can You Walk Away? Modern Slavery: Human Trafficking in the United States, helped us all to see that there is much more work we can do together to continue Lincoln’s fight. Our hope is that our meetings in these countries, where modern slavery is alive and prospering, will inform our work in our own community, across the nation, and around the globe.
While I’m certain that this is a trip Lincoln himself never made, I’m also certain that Lincoln would be appalled to know that modern forms of slavery still exist in the United States and all over the world. Preparing for this visit, I take great inspiration in Lincoln’s legacy of the power we all have to turn big ideas into action. As I travel throughout Thailand and Cambodia, interacting with various organizations committed to fighting slavery, I look forward to sharing this journey with you along the way. To stay informed of what I’m doing, follow President Lincoln’s Cottage on Twitter @LincolnsCottage, and like us on Facebook. We’ll also be posting daily (or near daily) blog posts here on our website www.lincolncottage.org.
I can’t wait to report back!
In February 2012, President Lincoln’s Cottage unveiled Can You Walk Away? Modern Slavery: Human Trafficking in the United States. This special exhibit challenges perceptions of slavery in America today and raises awareness of a growing humanitarian crisis. By posing the question, “Can you walk away?” this exhibit inspires people to engage with the modern abolitionist movement and to see that slavery is an ongoing issue that requires big thinking and direction action, just as it did in Lincoln’s time. First Lady Laura Bush endorsed the exhibit, calling it “an invaluable lens through which the public can view our country’s ongoing struggle with slavery — both in the historical context and in present day trafficking. Exhibits like this are evidence of the way historic places can shape the way we live in the present.” Can You Walk Away? was created in partnership with the Polaris Project, the leading NGO in the United States fighting modern-day slavery. The exhibit is schedule to run through August 2013 in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center.
Polaris Project is a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Named after the North Star “Polaris” that guided people escaping slavery along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is transforming the way that individuals and communities respond to human trafficking, in the U.S. and globally. By successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888), conducting trainings, and providing vital services to victims of trafficking, Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org.
Students Opposing Slavery is a student run organization that is committed to improving the world by raising awareness for human trafficking, a form of modern day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. For more information visit http://studentsopposingslavery.org/.