Prior to setting out on the 6 day, 500 mile journey the IJM Freedom Tour Team spent part of our Saturday touring the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. It is huge. Nestled between the two stadiums on the riverfront in downtown Cincy it is an impressive landmark. Beyond the Freedom Center serving as a record of the issue of slavery beginning in the early 1500s and chronicled up through 1865 when Slavery was Abolished by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution which outlaws slavery. Its clear though, in our conversations with our guide, Bob and with Luke Bolcher, the Center’s general counsel that the idea of indentured servitude never really has disappeared. In our most modern of times slavery still exists. It is known by many names: human trafficking, bonded labor, forced labor, or sex trafficking. It is present worldwide, including the United States and, even here in our state of Ohio.
By estimates there may be as many as 27 million people caught in one or another form of slavery. Between 600,000 and 800,000 are trafficked internationally, with as many as 17,500 people trafficked into the United States. Nearly three out of every four victims are women…and a distributing half of modern-day slaves are children.
Our tour was a sobering foundation to the purpose of our effort…to ride 500 miles from here to the Lincoln Memorial to gain awareness for this evil.