This blog was originally written for the Price of Life NYC blog and can be also found at http://priceoflifenyc.org/refuse-to-do-nothing/
This is a picture of Angelina and Sarah Grimke. Born thirteen years apart in South Carolina in the 1800s, these sisters became well known for being fearless abolitionists. They were the first Southern women to publicly condemn slavery to their fellow Southerners. Their message was rejected by their neighbors and their family, especially their father who was a successful plantation and slave owner himself. As the hostility grew against them, they moved to the Northeast hoping to build momentum in the abolitionist movement.
I found great inspiration when I first learned of these sisters; through them I began to see the power that ordinary people like myself had in the fight against modern day slavery. The Grimke sisters were two women among many many ordinary women who despite not having a vote, a valued voice outside the home, and limited resources, became instrumental in the abolitionist movement.
When I begin to believe the lie that the evil of modern day slavery is too big or too dark for me to address, I think of these women and take cues from what they did and I press on doing what I can.
In making one of her first pleas to her fellow Southeners, Angelina wrote Appeal to Christian Women of the South. Here she spoke of the power women did have:
“…if you really suppose you can do nothing to overthrow slavery, you are greatly mistaken. You can do much in every way: four things I will name. 1st. You can read on this subject. 2d. You can pray over this subject. 3d. You can speak on this subject. 4th. You can act on this subject. I have not placed reading before praying because I regard it more important, but because, in order to pray aright, we must understand what we are praying for.” (Angelina E. Grimke, Appeal to Christian Women of the South, New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1936. <utc.virginia.edu/abolitn/abesaegat.html>.)
Each of us, right where we are, right in the ordinary life circumstances that we live, have power at our disposal to help end modern day slavery. We each have the power to educate ourselves on what types of slavery exist in our world today and what fuels it. We each have the power to pray – praying for restoration of victims, protection for first responders, tougher laws, for justice to rule, and love to overflow. We each have the power of relationships – to share what we know with those we are in relationship with and invite them to join you. And we each have the power to act, to move, to advocate, to be wise consumers, to write letters to leading brands expressing desire for slave free products, to call government leaders to support strong laws, and to give time and money to anti-trafficking organizations.
What will you do? Will you step out and do what you can? Each of us are needed in the new abolitionist movement. Join me. Refuse to do nothing.