Each February, Americans celebrate black history and the African-American leaders and communities who helped shape it. For many, it’s a time to celebrate the obstacles we’ve overcome as a nation and to honor all who fought for freedom and equality in the face of adversity.
For centuries, oppressors have validated their abusive and exploitive actions by claiming economic or social gain. From the slave trade to forced child labor to the denial of women’s suffrage, there are numerous periods of American history that many would rather forget. However, our past provides important guidance for overcoming one of the greatest social justice issues of our time: animal rights. After all, isn’t it time to extend moral considerations to non-human animals as well?
Let’s take a look at what some prominent leaders of social justice movements had to say about humans back then, and reflect on what they could mean for animals now …
“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
—President Abraham Lincoln
What It Means for Animal Rights: Be empathetic. Imagine if you, your child, or your dog were the one being abused. Does it make a difference? It shouldn’t.
“It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.”
—Carl T. Rowan, prominent black journalist of the 20th century
What It Means for Animal Rights: The exploitation of animals in the food, clothing, vivisection, and entertainment industries is a terrible injustice. Luckily, you can help animals every single day by choosing compassion when you eat, shop, and select activities for your family.
“Silence never won rights. They are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressures from below.”
—Roger Baldwin, one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union
What It Means for Animal Rights: Get active. Check out our database of delicious vegan recipes. Contact companies that still use fur in their designs. Boycott companies that test their products on animals. Attend a circus demonstration in your hometown.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
What It Means for Animal Rights: We must extend our compassion to all living beings. You can make a difference. Don’t let animals suffer another minute.