Not for Sale: At Adrian College—abolition then and now

ADRIAN COLLEGE: Look closely at the banner on the tower and you’ll see Asa Mahan.David Batstone and Not for Sale certainly didn’t invent the abolition movement in America. In fact, their young activists in today’s anti-slavery movement are making direct connections to the roots of the 19th-century abolition movement in the U.S.

Here is our Not for Sale story so far: In Part 1 this week, we reported on some of the difficult-to-find Internet gateways into the Not for Sale network. In Part 2, we welcomed David Batstone for an interview about how his movement is rapidly expanding. Today, we are concluding with Part 3, looking at Not for Sale from the perspective of young activists.

Adrian College and Abolitionist Educator Asa Mahan

Asa Mahan, educator and abolitionistBefore the Civil War—and 150-or-so years before Not for Sale was founded—one of the “David Batstones” of that era was Asa Mahan. He was a brilliant, evangelical preacher, educator and activist against slavery. Of course, styles were different back in that era and Mahan had a whole lot more hair than Batstone. (Check out Batstone’s photo in our interview.) In the 1830s, Mahan was the first president of Oberlin College—and he also taught on the Oberlin faculty in a subject area not all that far from Batstone’s expertise today. In his era, Mahan taught what was described as moral philosophy. Unfortunately, he also was a contentious fellow and staff disputes at Oberlin led to his eventually moving away from that college.

He wound up leading a church in Adrian, a rural area in southern Michigan. Soon, he was convinced by local leaders to help found a new college. Adrian was born in 1959 with Mahan as the first president. Not surprisingly, Adrian was staunchly anti-slavery and pro-Union through the Civil War.

Adrian College and Not for Sale Today

ADRIAN COLLEGE 2009: The campus’ symbolic rock was painted during a visit by David Batstone (in the blue striped shirt). Chaplain Chris Momany crouches near the rock.The moment we began our series on Not for Sale, proud Adrian supporters alerted ReadTheSpirit about Adrian’s strong ongoing support of Batstone’s anti-slavery movement. Adrian Trustee, the Rev. Marsha Woolley, and current Adrian chaplain, the Rev. Chris Momany, both contacted us. “Adrian College is one of America’s original ‘abolitionist’ colleges,” Momany wrote. “We have been at this for more than 150 years, but we will not let it go until the issue is resolved.

“David Batstone spoke at Adrian College just as his ‘Not for Sale’ book first appeared in 2007. More than 200 of Adrian’s first-year students read the book during the fall of 2007 and David returned to campus again. The movement at Adrian exploded from that point and has become a critical shaper of meaning and purpose for many students. In April of 2009 Adrian College hosted the first ‘Not for Sale Abolitionist Academy’ of leaders from around the nation and world. Today the students are working on awareness, survivor support, and state legislation.”

A Student’s Perspective on Adrian and Not for Sale

Adrian College student activist Emily CutlerFinally, we heard from Emily Cutler, an Adrian sophomore from Imlay City, Michigan. She is a Social Work major and plans to pursue a vocation in the fight against human trafficking. She is also a United Methodist student. Emily wrote:

I first heard about the issue of modern-day human trafficking when I came to Adrian College. There was a convocation speaker about it and Pastor Chris lent me the ‘Not for Sale’ book. I was outraged the whole time I read that book. That such an atrocious crime could take place around the world today is horrifying, let alone in our own country! I was really startled by this information. I didn’t know this was happening. So I joined the group in the hope of raising awareness. I became an advocate on behalf of this issue. It’s alarming and people should know about it.

You can purchase the guidebook of this movement, “Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade—and How We Can Fight It,” from Amazon now.

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