Princeton has long celebrated its connection with 19th-century anti-slavery activist, congressman and pastor Owen Lovejoy (1811-1864).
Lovejoy’s 1830s-era home on the city’s eastern edge, in which he harbored runaway slaves, was restored in the early 1970s and is open for tours at certain times of the year.
The dedication of the restored Lovejoy homestead spawned the first Homestead Festival in 1972.
Attending the festival or being involved as a volunteer — the 47th annual Homestead Festival will be Sept. 7-9 — is one way people can honor Lovejoy’s legacy.
Another way is to carry on his battle against slavery.
Human trafficking is the 21st century equivalent of what slavery was to the 19th century — an evil scourge to be confronted, fought and abolished.
Princeton area residents have an opportunity to learn more about human trafficking at a free training session on Thursday, Jan. 25.
It will take place from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Nelson Chapel, adjacent to Freedom House, at 446 Elm Place in Princeton.
Sponsors are Freedom House, the Center for Prevention of Abuse, and the 10th Judicial Circuit Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council.
Sara Dillefeld will give the presentation. She is an Illinois certified domestic violence professional and the director of Human Trafficking Services at the Center for Prevention of Abuse.
Illinois reported 202 cases of human trafficking in 2016 alone. Worldwide, officials estimate there are nearly 25 million victims of human trafficking. At that rate, human trafficking is the second largest crime in the world.
Dillefeld will talk about the prevalence of human trafficking, current trends, relevant laws, the role of law enforcement and domestic violence advocates, people who are most vulnerable to human trafficking, common tactics used on victims by traffickers, and tips for identification and local resources.
Sponsors believe the Jan. 25 training session will benefit people such as police, prosecutors, health care providers and victim service providers, but anyone can sign up and attend.
The deadline to register is fast approaching. It is Monday, Jan. 15.
To register, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
People who want more information may contact Mary Taylor at 309-672-6992 or by email at email@example.com.
Unfortunately, the fight against human bondage, so bravely waged by Lovejoy, is not over.
Today’s Princeton area residents can honor Lovejoy’s legacy by learning more about human trafficking, then joining the fight to stop it.
– Bureau County Republican Editorial Board