Category Archives: event

What To a Slave is the 4th of July?

In 1852, Fredrick Douglass issued his famous speech What To a Slave is the 4th of July? Here is an excerpt to keep in mind as we celebrate the holiday:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Via End Human Trafficking.

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MTV Exit Against Trafficking

Some 1,200 fans of all ages, mostly Cambodian, gathered at the Angkor Wat temple to watch several local and international bands organized by MTV Exit to raise awareness about human trafficking.

“We believe that the concert taking place in this historical tourist location will… send a strong message to the world that Cambodia is not a child sex tourism destination,” the minister told the audience.

Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as soft on human trafficking and earlier this year suspended marriages between foreigners and Cambodians amid concerns they were being used to traffic poor, uneducated women.

The concert was part of a series of music shows in Cambodia organized by MTV Exit with funding from the US Agency for International Development to raise awareness in young people about human trafficking in the region.

“Let’s not forget why we are here — millions of people are currently living in slavery as a result of being trafficked. This is a grotesque human rights abuse and we must all act to stop it,” MTV Exit campaign director Simon Goff told the crowd.

The last international recording artist to perform at Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was tenor Jose Carreras who sang for a charity gala dinner there in 2002.

“I cannot believe that in a supposedly civilized world this kind of heinous form of modern slavery still exists, and I truly believe that we can all do something to stop this,” Placebo frontman Brian Molko told AFP. “It all starts with caring and compassion.”

FEATURED: Ten Shekel Shirt

Natalie Plumb with Penn State’s The Collegian writes about Lamont Hiebert, lead vocalist of Ten Shekel Shirt and co-founder of the charity LOVE146 that combats child trafficking and exploitation. Ten Shekel Shirt and The Wrecking joined together at the HUB-Robeson Center to raise awareness about child exploitation and slavery.

Hiebert took his audience on a journey, using rock to inspire the crowds to get involved in the abolition of modern-day slavery and the restoration of survivors of these crimes.

“We’ll sing a lot of songs about abolition, justice and restoration for people who have been through these horrible tortures, but also songs about college-related themes,” Hiebert told The Collegian the day of the concert.

Ten Shekel Shirt has played at more than 50 college campuses throughout the U.S., Hiebert said. The singer added he believes college students are the best audiences for “rock and justice, art and action,” the theme of Ten Shekel Shirt’s tour.

Capital City Ball To Benefit Polaris Project

The Capital City Ball was organized by a group of Washington, DC area professionals to host a fun and elegant black tie party and raise money for important charitable causes. Proceeds from the Capital City Ball will be donated to the anti-slavery and trafficking Polaris Project.

Polaris Project’s vision is for a world without slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves towards freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project has been providing a comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery since 2002.

Polaris Project is one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the United States and Japan, with programs operating at international, national and local levels through our offices in Washington, DC; Newark, NJ; Denver, CO; and Tokyo, Japan. Polaris Project is one of the few organizations working on all forms of trafficking and serving both citizen and foreign national victims of human trafficking.

Polaris Project’s comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking includes conducting direct outreach and victim identification, providing social services and transitional housing to victims, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) serving as the central national hotline on human trafficking, advocating for stronger state and Federal anti-trafficking legislation, and engaging community members in local and national grassroots efforts.

The 2008 Capital City Ball will be held Saturday, November 22 at Patterson House, 15 Dupont Circle, Washington, DC 20036-1219. To acquire tickets, visit their site. Regular tickets are $100 ($110 after November 1st and $125 after November 15th) and Abolitionist tickets are $500.

Cassandra Clifford at the Freedom Awards

A great piece by Cassandra Clifford at Children from Foreign Policy Blogs about the Freedom Awards, which honors modern abolitionists and survivors of slavery.

All of the recipients’ are inspirational and amazing; however two in particular struck personal cords with me. Ricky Richard, who won the Harriet Tubman Reintegration Award with his organization, Friends of Orphans. One look into the eyes of Ricky and you are beyond moved and inspired by his story of bravery, courage and triumph…you are energized into action. From across the room one notices the pride and ambition of James Kofi Annan, who with his organization Challenging Heights, was awarded the Frederick Douglass Award. James smile alone is enough to incite one into action.

Both men, spent their childhoods enslaved, Ricky as a child soldier, James as a child laborer in the fishing industry, both escaped the shackles of modern slavery and neither one could turn their backs on the countless children just like them. Both Rickey and James are powerful heroes who have used their struggles to establish organizations which not only work for freedom, but work sustainably to brake the chains of slavery by addressing the root issues, especially focusing on education, which fuel the modern slave trade.

Read her whole post here.

“Ending Abuses and Improving Working Conditions for Tomato Workers”

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a Florida-based labor rights group, was in Washington, D.C. this week to participate in a Senate hearing about the working conditions for tomato pickers in the fields. The CIW, alongside Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who chaired the hearing, convened with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

“The American consumer does not want the tomatoes they eat to be picked by workers who are grossly mistreated, underpaid, and in some case even kept in chains,” said Sanders before the hearing. “This must not happen in the United States of America in 2008.”

At the hearing, on Tuesday, April 15, there were no Republicans in sight. Charlie Frost, a Collier County Sheriff’s Detective spoke with the members of the committee: “Today’s form of slavery does not bear the overt nature of pre-Civil War society, but it is none the less heinous and reprehensible.”

Though Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (which to date refuses to support the penny per pound contribution from corporations to farmworkers) insists there is no slavery in the commercial tomato industry, its executive vice president, Reginald L. Brown, reluctantly agreed at the conclusion of the two-hour hearing that the exchange would cooperate if the committee requested a Government Accountability Office study of conditions among tomato workers.

However, Brown warned he could not guarantee the individual companies that make up the exchange would cooperate.

“Why is there still slavery and brutal exploitation in the food we eat in the 21st century?” asked CIW Co-Founder Lucas Benitez, recipient of the 2003 RFK Human Rights Award. “Why can’t this country’s trillion dollar food industry do better by workers who sacrifice body and soul to put food on our table?”

Sources: PRESS RELEASE: Farmworkers, Eric Schlosser to Testify at Senate Hearing on Slavery and Abuses in Florida’s Tomato Fields from Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights; Modern Slavery in Immokalee from The Nation via Yahoo; Sheriff: There is slavery in Florida tomato fields from The PalmBeachPost.com

Humanitarian Weekend

The Senate debated and passed the 13th Amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6. This weekend, 144 years later, was filled with events that reverberate with the same intentions: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

On Friday, April 11, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ humanitarian efforts against modern-day slavery were recognized by the Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida in a gala event in Naples, Florida.

In the past decade, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has assisted in the investigation and prosecution of six slavery cases and freed over 1,000 workers from the shackles of modern-say slavery. Last year, they received the 2007 Anti-Slavery Award from the London-based Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest international human rights organization. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Campaign for Human Development has also honored the coalition with the Sister Margaret Cafferty Award.

This award comes in good time, bringing the spotlight back to their campaign for fair wages. The coalition has been lobbying to have the Miami-based fast-food giant Burger King agree to pay a penny more to pickers for over a year and this April 28, they plan to deliver their signed petition to Burger King headquarters.

All the proceeds from the gala event will benefit the renovation of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ community center on Second Street South, which they acquired in 2004. Unlike their small rental space on S. 3rd St., the new center will include a multilingual media library, reading room, computer lab, anti-slavery office, consumer cooperative, community room, work area and a large parking lot.

The Coalition plans to move in this summer.

Yesterday, Oprah Winfrey, Glenn Close, and othe high-profile figures gathered in New Orleans for the 10th anniversary of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.

Read more about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Gala event at The Naples Daily News. Read about modern enslavement at The Washington Times.