In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today my Facebook and Instagram feeds have been full of quotes by the amazing man which are unfortunately still more than relevant decades after his death. I’d like to think we’ve made some progress as a society but watching the news it’s hard to imagine that we’ve taken any steps forward at all. But I have to take comfort in the fact that his words are still alive and well, that people believe them enough to share them, and hopefully that means they are living them as well. “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.” There are few better examples of standing up for what’s right than those laid out in this book.
I honestly don’t remember when I first heard about Operation Underground Railroad but it’s been on my radar for the last couple of years and it’s become a cause that is near and dear to my heart. Over 27 million people (including at least 13 million children) are victims of modern-day slavery (slave labor, sex trade, etc.), with over 100,000 of those children living here in the United States. OUR goes around the world breaking up human trafficking rings and rescuing and rehabilitating the victims. They’ve arrested countless traffickers and rescued hundreds of victims.
Some books are so powerful they punch you in the solar plexus and leave you gasping for breath for days or longer. This book is one of those. It details a bit of the founding of the organization, touches on a few of the rescue operations they’ve undergone, and talks about how the name Operation Underground Railroad came about by profiling a slave named Harriet Jacobs. Born into slavery she continually rebuffs the advances of her master and he retaliates by selling her children. After years of searching and fighting for them they are finally reunited and she spends the rest of her life working and fighting to abolish slavery. She’s an amazing woman I’d never heard of before, and just one example of many who risked and gave their lives to ensure others wouldn’t have to suffer in the same way.
It’s a fascinating look at slavery as we commonly think of it (around the time of the Civil War) as well as the atrocities that continue today. Be warned, I cried with nearly every page turn. Sometimes ugly, hiccuping sobs. It’s brutal. And that’s all the more reason why I think you should read it.
There’s also a phenomenal documentary on Amazon Prime right now about one of their rescue missions in Haiti that is discussed in the book. Check out Operation Toussaint, it’s a tough subject that everyone needs to be made aware of so spread the word and let’s make sure another child doesn’t have to experience the horrors of human trafficking. And if you’re so inclined, you can become an abolitionist or supporter by donating time or resources for the cause. Head over to their website for more details and find some happiness for yourself by seeking happiness for others.
Written by: Tim Ballard
Number of Pages: 256
Publisher: Shadow Mountain, 2018
Age Range: Adult