Saturday, December 19, 2009

The New Abolitionists

I first read about Elijah Lovejoy while I was a teenager, and he has been one of my heroes ever since. The man showed extreme courage and perseverance as an abolitionist in the early 1800s. He was run out of St. Louis for expressing his anti-slavery views. Then after relocating to Alton, Illinois, he faced more persecution as the editor of an abolitionist publication. Three different printing presses were thrown into the Mississippi River before he died in 1837 trying to protect a fourth printing press from being destroyed. Lovejoy may not have been directly involved with rescuing slaves, but he gave his life because he wanted their freedom. He was a true abolitionist.

I used to think being an abolitionist was a thing of the past. I thought all slavery ended when Congress passed the 13th amendment in 1865. Recently I found out how erroneous that notion is. Free the Slaves estimates that there are 27 million people who are currently enslaved, and it's not just happening in far away lands. There are modern day slaves in the United States, and they need modern day abolitionists to fight for their freedom.

What I love about Elijah Lovejoy--his courage, perseverance, and self-sacrifice in effort to eradicate slavery--lives on today in people like Amanda Kloer, who educates others about human trafficking over at, and Zach Hunter, a 17 year-old who started Loose Change to Loosen Chains five years ago.

Maybe someday I can join the ranks of Eli, Amanda and Zach as someone who is willing to fight for the freedom of others.

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