#WALKFREE Rally opening remarks

I decided to post my October speech.  Portland Maine, October 15, 2016

I’m walking 500 miles.

I’m walking 500 miles because I have a message.  I have a message for everybody.  It’s for everybody in Portland, and in Maine, and in New England, and beyond.

And my message is this:  slavery is alive and well.

Slavery is alive and well.  Slavery of the most heinous kind, and the most vile kind.  Slavery so nefarious, it’s something that “regular” people, you know, people like us, don’t want to know about.

Slavery is alive and well, and it’s highly, highly profitable, for those who are controlling it.

It’s alive and well all over the world, in nearly every single country, and right here on the East Coast, right here in Maine, and in Massachusetts where I live.  And it’s alive and well right here in our own back yard.

That nefarious form of slavery, the one I mentioned, it’s human trafficking, and we don’t want to know about it.  We don’t want to see it on the news, hear it on the radio, or read about it.  We don’t want to know about it because it shatters our belief that slavery is something that happens over there, somewhere else, and not here.  Human trafficking cannot possibly be happening here, in our country.  But it is, and like I said before, it’s happening right here in our back yard.

You see, once we learn about it, now we have to acknowledge it, we have to think about it, we have to talk about it, and we must take action to stop it.

We can never “unlearn” what we have learned about human trafficking.  As the great British abolitionist William Wilberforce said, around the turn of the 19th century: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know”.

So here’s the next part of my message.

American women, men, boys, and girls are trafficked right here in our own backyard.  They are bought, sold, traded, and brutalized.  They are treated as if they are not human.  These are our sisters, and our brothers.  These are our cousins, and our neighbors.  These are our children.  The number is in the tens of thousands, possibly greater, of our American brothers and sisters, and our American children, who are living in slavery.

So what can we do?  Remember all of the things I just said that we didn’t want to do?  Well those are the things we need to do to make a greater effort to combat slavery and human trafficking.  We need to acknowledge it, believe it, reflect, and process it.  And we each need to understand it to the best of our ability.  We need to see it on the news, we need to listen to it on the radio, we need to read about it, and we need to talk about it.

Think about this.  Human trafficking is a criminal enterprise, an illegal industry making billions of dollars, through the abuse of our people.  Think about that.  Try to imagine what these tens of thousands of victims are experiencing, especially the children.  We can’t even imagine it.  Picture a child of 11, or 12, or 13, an American little girl.  And think about what’s happening to her.

Let’s talk about that.  Start a conversation with your family, and your friends, and co-workers.  Get involved in conversations.  It’s the first step.  Talk to people like police and detectives, listen to survivors, like we did today.  Listen to people like me when I walk through 22 cities in less than a month to bring this message.  We all came here today to talk about human trafficking, as it is occurring, right here in our own backyard.

So, take action!  Join the fight!  Donate your time, treasure, and talent.  Contact your elected officials and advocate for better programs and services, and to make improved human trafficking legislation a priority.  Fight back, with us, and help this great country put an end to human trafficking and other forms of slavery, right here in our own backyard.

I didn’t come here to give you an enormous amount of facts or statistics.  All of that information is available and it’s easy to find.  I’m here because I have a message for you.

Slavery is alive and well right here in our own back yards.  Our brothers and our sisters and our children are not for sale.

Tengo un mensaje. Nuestros hermanos y hermanas, y nuestros hijos, ellos no están a la venta.

J’ai un message. Nos frères et sœurs, et nos enfants, ils ne sont pas à vendre.

Ho un messaggio. I nostri fratelli e sorelle, ei nostri figli, che non sono in vendita.

I have a message, our brothers, and our sisters, and our children, THEY ARE NOT FOR SALE!

 

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