The Strange Paradox – A Presidential Inauguration

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Setting up chairs in front of the U.S. Capitol Building for the 2013 inauguration (Getty Images)

In the annals of equality and progress there are two momentous dates whose anniversaries we celebrate this year. It is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington when Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his “I have a dream” speech, and the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Today we honor the legacy of one of those men. A man who is arguably one of the greatest civil rights leader in U.S. history. There’s a serendipitous beauty in that today is also the ceremonial inauguration of of our 44th President’s second term in office (official inauguration occurred on Sun. Jan, 20, 2013).

President Barack Obama will be sworn in using two bibles. The first is the Bible used by former President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, when he took the oath of office for the first of his two terms in 1861. The second Bible belonged to Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

President Obama’s legacy has not been cemented yet. Depending on who’s words you lend your ear to you will hear of his supposed  incompetency and arrogance that will surely lead to our economic and moral downfall. Or you will hear of his perceived efforts to secure economic justice as well as equality for women and the LGBTQIA community. Regardless of these perceptions, he is in fact a symbol of the forward motion in the movement for racial equality – a movement that took root in men like Lincoln and MLK Jr. There’s an undeniable beauty in that fact.

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President Barack Obama officially takes the oath of office for a second term on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013

Political leanings aside, there is a potent reminder of the work that is left to be done – particularly in the atrocity that has touched the professional and/or personal lives of each of these men.

Slavery.

150 years after Lincoln’s America and our country (and the world) can not boast of a sweeping movement for equality or the relentless eradication of all forms of slavery. Instead we carry the shame of nearly 21 million slaves worldwide and the culpability in that we permit slaves to fight our wars, grow our food, make our products, provide us with sexual entertainment, and provide us with bodily organs. We are all touched by the modern slave trade and NONE of us are exempt from the call to end it.

Laying aside our politics, that is what today ought to represent. It is a glaring light on the strange paradox of a country that has had such a racial evolution that it can claim a two-term President of African-American descent and yet also can currently claim the presence of thousands upon thousands of slaves within its own borders. How can this be?

How have you and I allowed this to be?

“Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it, is his love of justice.” – President Abraham Lincoln

“Why have you and I allowed this to be? “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. ” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name; modern slavery. It is barbaric and it is evil and it has no place in a civilized world.” – President Barack Obama


MLK, Jr. is also quoted as saying, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

If you have not yet taken your first steps in the fight to end human trafficking, please honor MLK by taking it today…

Sign the “Help make freedom Real” petition asking President Obama  to use his second term to help make freedom real for children and families around the world waiting for rescue. Join me in asking the president to lead on a comprehensive plan to eradicate slavery at home and abroad.

Sign the petition to pass Safe Harbor laws in 2013. As a result of the passing of these laws, children will be recognized, not as criminals, but as victims. These laws define child victims of sexual exploitation as kids, not criminals, and provide funding for the services they so desperately need.

 

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