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By Dan Carlson
Prairie Ponderings 

Slavery Is Ongoing


August 11, 2021 | View PDF

Americans like to say we did away with slavery in the 1860s. This is false. Before I present some facts I suspect many readers are not aware of, I state unequivocally that slavery is evil, reprehensible and an abomination to basic human dignity. Let my position on it be known before we look at uncomfortable truth.

Some portray America as evil, founded on the backs of slaves. A nation that stands out among others as unique for its exploitation of African Americans. This view is also false. Yes, America did participate in slavery, which is reprehensible, but it is not unique in having done so. It’s estimated a total of 300,000 Africans were enslaved and brought to America during the slave trade. Using the most liberal figure available, another 150,000 ended up in America after first being slaves in the Caribbean. While most African slaves were in southern states, it should be noted that a minority of southerners (25%) actually owned slaves (which raises questions over what the Civil War was really about, but that’s another column).

If you look at the slave trade as a whole, only 4-6% of those taken from Africa came to America. Brazil was the largest importer of slaves in this hemisphere, having imported 4.6 million African slaves of the estimated 12.7 million total ripped from their homelands. Nearly 2 million didn’t survive the trip across the Atlantic, making slavery a genocidal enterprise that was the epitome of evil. But America is not alone as a participant in that evil. In fact, nearly all nations and people groups have had slavery or been enslaved at one point or another in their history. Even some indigenous people took slaves from rival tribes.

Now the uncomfortable truth. Human rights groups estimate that TODAY, across the world, there are between 30 and 50 million slaves. Yes, human beings are still bought and sold like cattle in 2021. The U.S. Department of State defines modern slavery as “the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion.” Modern slavery is also known as human trafficking. Here are nations and estimates of how many live in slavery there: India (18 million), China (3.5 million), Pakistan (2 million), Bangladesh (1.5 million), North Korea (1 million). And in the United States it is estimated there are more than 50,000 people living in slavery. Yes, slavery exists even here.

Many of those enslaved in the U.S. are sex slaves between the ages of 14 and 24. These are people purchased by sick Americans who use them to satisfy their own monstrous appetites. Drugs, physical abuse and fear of death or worse keep these poor souls from escaping. What can be done?

Thankfully, there are groups combating slavery and human trafficking. I support two. One is part of the denomination I have ministry credentials through, and the other is Operation Underground Railroad, named for the covert operation of the Civil War that helped slaves in the South escape to freedom in the North. If you wish to support them, their website is

Another thing we can do is be vigilant in our own lives. If you see a young person in the company of a suspicious adult and that young person looks fearful, dominated and controlled. If something seems off and that young person is not allowed to speak to anyone but the adult with them, let authorities know. There are still slaves among us. Do what we can to free them.


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