President Lincoln’s Cottage Opens Exhibit on Modern Slavery (Feb. 17, 2012-Aug. 31, 2013)

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Lincoln’s Cottage will open an exhibit on modern slavery tomorrow, February 17, titled “Can You Walk Away?”  According the Cottage’s Web site, this special exhibit will challenge perceptions of slavery in America today and raise awareness of a growing humanitarian crisis. By posing the question, “Can you walk away?” this exhibit will inspire people to engage with the modern abolitionist movement and to see that slavery is an ongoing issue that requires big thinking and direct action, just as it did in Lincoln’s time.

Full press release below.

Washington, D.C. – President Lincoln’s Cottage, in partnership with Polaris Project, will open Can You Walk Away? Modern Slavery: Human Trafficking in the United States President’s Day weekend in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center. The exhibit is part of a year-long commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln developing the Emancipation Proclamation at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Can You Walk Away? bridges the perceived gap between slavery past and present, and highlights the challenges and perceptions of slavery in America today. Can You Walk Away? will be open for 18 months, from February 17, 2012 through August 31, 2013.
 
“The Cottage has an obligation to the public to explore the modern impact of Lincoln’s presidency and ideas, especially ideas developed right here at the Cottage.It’s outrageous that slavery is a growing problem in our country, especially when the ‘shackles’ of slavery were legally abolished nearly 150 years ago. Slavery is a problem in our world today that requires big thinking and direct action, just like it did in Lincoln’s time,” said Erin Carlson Mast, Director of President Lincoln’s Cottage.
 
Can You Walk Away? uses powerful imagery, video footage and compelling statistics to inspire people to consider Lincoln’s ideas about slavery, discover the harsh reality of slavery today, and take direct action to help eliminate this problem. Human trafficking is a $32 billion-a-year industry and is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. Some 12 million people are held against their will in compelled service across the globe. President Lincoln’s Cottage is the authentic resource for understanding Lincoln’s perspective on slavery and his development of the Emancipation Proclamation and this exhibit connects his bold and courageous ideas with the modern abolitionist movement.


 
President Lincoln’s Cottage has produced this exhibit in partnership with Polaris Project. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is transforming the way that individuals and communities respond to the crime of human trafficking. The organization operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, our country’s central 24-hour human trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888). Polaris Project, which is headquartered in Washington DC, also advocates for stronger federal and state laws, builds the capacity of communities to fight trafficking, and provides vital services to victims of trafficking.

“We are honored and humbled to be partnering with President Lincoln’s Cottage on this powerful exhibit. Sadly, forms of slavery did not end in this country after the Emancipation Proclamation. When we show people the realities of what victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery face every day, it is nearly impossible to walk away without joining the growing movement to fight these human rights abuses. We hope visitors to this exhibit will understand that they can be an important part of the solution,” said Bradley Myles, Executive Director and CEO of the Polaris Project.
 
Video segments were contributed by Worldwide Documentaries, Inc. – Not My Life, and “The mtvU Against Our Will Campaign.”
 
President Lincoln lived in the Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home from June-November of 1862, 1863 and1864-totaling one quarter of his presidency. He was living here when he drafted the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation and deliberated critical issues of the Civil War. Since the Cottage opened to the public in 2008, tens of thousands of visitors have engaged in conversations on liberty, justice, and equality, through innovative guided tours, forward-thinking exhibits and quality educational programs. Hours of operation: Tours on the hour, 7 days a week. Visitor Center open 9:30am-4:30pm Mon-Sat, 10:30am-4:30pm Sunday. For more information on President Lincoln’s Cottage, visit: www.lincolncottage.org
 
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately-funded non-profit organization, works to save America’s historic places. For more information visit: http://www.preservationnation.org/.
 
To report a tip in the United States or connect with U.S. anti-trafficking services, community members can call The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at: 1-888-373-7888.

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