This year, a son of Africa was sworn in as President of the United States. For many, it marked a milestone on an epic journey that began more than 400 years ago. Throughout the Americas and the Caribbean, the descendants of history’s greatest forced migration have fought long and hard for justice, assimilation and respect. That fight continues today.
The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade honours the millions of Africans violently removed from their homelands and cast into slavery. Estimates vary of how many millions of men and women were transported. What is not in dispute is the legacy of this vile traffic. Africa has yet to recover from the ravages of the slave trade or the subsequent era of colonization. And here in the New World and in Europe and elsewhere, people of African descent still struggle daily against entrenched prejudice that keeps them disproportionately in poverty.
Despite the official abolition of slavery, racism still pollutes our world. So, too, do contemporary forms of slavery. These include bonded servitude, forced prostitution and the use of children in warfare and the international drug trade. It is essential that we speak out loud and clear against such abuses. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Failure to observe this fundamental principal leads directly to the inhumanity of slavery and the horror of genocide.
尽管奴隶制已经正式废除，但种族主义仍沾污着我们的世界。而且，当代形式的奴隶制，包括债役奴役，强迫卖淫，利用儿童从事战争和国际毒品贸易，也在沾污着我们的世界。我们必须站出来大声疾呼，反对这种恶行。《世界人权宣言》指出： “人皆生而自由；在尊严和权利上均各平等。” 不遵守这一基本原则，就直接导致惨无人道的奴役和恐怖的种族灭绝。
Speaking out is the theme of this year’s observance. It asks us to “Break the Silence, Beat the Drum”. Since the dawn of humanity in Africa, drums have provided the pulse of our history. They continue to help us celebrate our common humanity. Today I will beat the drum. I urge everyone, everywhere, to beat the drum. We must proclaim that black or white, man or woman, we are one people. We can achieve harmony only if we respect each other, rejoice in our diversity, and work together for our common goals.