One of the most painful aspects of confronting the legacy of slavery through outreach with the film Traces of the Trade and the book Inheriting the Trade is the fact that it isn’t just history we’re exposing. Slavery continues today.

A question I often ask when I’m speaking to groups is, “Can you name the year in which the most people were enslaved?” All last year my answer was, “2007, but it will be eclipsed in 2008.” This year, sadly, my answer will be, “2008, but it will likely be eclipsed in 2009.”

Please take a moment today to read this powerful Op-Ed column by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. I first read it last week and it has stayed with me. It will help you understand one aspect of modern-day slavery.

When you’re finished with Kristof’s column, please visit the Not For Sale and ¡Abolish websites to learn about two groups who are actively working to end slavery.

Slavery isn’t just history. It may be less obvious and visible than at times in the past but it ruins more lives than ever before. Estimates are that 10-12 million African people were taken across the Middle Passage and forced into slavery during the 4+ centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. Estimates are that 27 million people are enslaved today.

It is my fervent hope that the new Obama administration will make ending slavery a significantly higher policy priority than has been the case in the past.