President Lincoln’s Cottage in DC opens exhibit on modern slavery for Civil War anniversary

The house where President Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation some 150 years ago is confronting the reality that more people are held in modern-day slavery than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Article courtesy of: Washingtonpost.com, Published February 17, 2012

WASHINGTON — The house where President Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation some 150 years ago is confronting the reality that more people are held in modern-day slavery than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

A 2005 United Nations report based on reported cases of forced labor found at least 12 million people worldwide, including people in the U.S., are held in modern slavery and sex trafficking. The U.S. State Department has put the number even higher in its 2011 Trafficking in Persons report, saying as many as 27 million men, women and children are living in such bondage.

In an exhibit titled ‘Can You Walk Away?” opening Friday, President Lincoln’s Cottage in the nation’s capital tells the stories of women working as domestic servants without pay, of women forced to work as prostitutes and of men held in servitude through debt contracts and other coercion. It will remain on view in a small gallery at the site through August 2013.

Curators partnered with the nonprofit Polaris Project, which operates a national human trafficking tip line to mobilize efforts with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to stop such crimes, to create the exhibit. The centerpiece is a series of filmed interviews with people who escaped modern slavery and with FBI agents who told their stories to mtvU’s “Against Our Will” campaign and for the documentary “Not My Life.”

Lincoln’s Cottage developed the project to mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and to further examine the present-day issue of slavery, said museum director Erin Carlson Mast. Many visitors come to the site to learn about Lincoln’s ideas on slavery.

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