lincoln_abrahamI’m pretty sure that Abraham Lincoln would want you to throw a party this month. Honest.

Not to commemorate his birthday, February 12th, but to help finish the job he is most famous for starting: freeing the slaves.

That’s why I’m writing today. I hope that you will consider making a gift or becoming a monthly supporter of Free the Slaves.

The Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery in America during Lincoln’s time. But they didn’t end it. There are an estimated 60,000 people in slavery inside the U.S. today, part of the 21-30 million enslaved worldwide.

Here’s how you can help honor Lincoln’s legacy: throw a Free the Slaves house party to raise awareness and funds. Our downloadable House Party Guide makes it easy. Invite friends, family, neighbors, classmates and coworkers.

Help them understand that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that businesses won’t profit from slavery, that governments won’t allow it, that international organizations won’t ignore it, and that we all — as human beings — won’t tolerate it any longer.

You can play our newest video at your house party. It’s called Overcoming Slavery. In just two minutes, Free the Slaves frontline activists explain our strategy to rid the world of human trafficking forever.

I hope that you will help us finish what President Lincoln started more than a century ago. Your participation and contributions will be what brings slavery to an end. We can’t do it without you.


8 Things You Can Do to End Slavery

Readers of the FTS blog already know that 21-30 million people are enslaved worldwide today. But what can you do to end it? The new Free the Slaves Take Action Card includes easy and quick steps to create the social change that will help end slavery. From 10 seconds to 10 days, here are things you can do:

Click to download our Take Action guide

Click to download our Take Action guide

10 Seconds:

10 Minutes:

10 Hours:

10 Days:

  • Host an event to raise funds and awareness. Download our free guide to hosting a fundraising event here.

Download and print these tips. Share them at your school, workplace, faith community, neighborhood, or even at your metro bus stop!

Visit Free the Slaves  for videos, links, fact sheets, and resources on how you can get involved in ending slavery. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the know. And visit Know the Chain to help keep slavery-tainted goods out of your shopping cart.

We can end slavery if we all work together.


Robin in Ghana

Robin filming child fishing slavery rescue in Ghana | Photo: FTS/Callahan

One of the founding principles of Free the Slaves is that we must show the world that slavery still exists. That has meant traveling to distant and dangerous places to film the brutality of slavery today, as well as to showcase innovative ways to end it.

Over the years, FTS has been fortunate to work with one of the world’s best photographers, Robin Romano.

Whether it was hundreds of feet below ground inside illegal gold mines, or hundreds of miles upcountry at fishing camps or in rebel conflict zones, Robin did what it took to present visual proof of slavery’s reality to the world.

Robin died late last year, and fellow activists in the Child Labor Coalition are gathering over the next few days in New York and Washington, D.C. to celebrate the life of an exemplary activist, gadfly, award-winning human rights photographer and filmmaker, artist and friend.

  • New York: Saturday, February 8th at 1 p.m., St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, 131 East 10th Street.
  • Washington: Thursday, February 13th at 4:30 p.m. at the National Education Association, 1201 16th Street, NW. Register here.

You can see some of Robin’s amazing FTS work about rehabilitating child soldier slaves in Uganda and the rescue of child fishing slaves in Ghana on the FTS Vimeo page. His own website is here.

The Free the Slaves staff will miss Robin, and our thoughts are with his family. Others who have worked with him will miss Robin, too:

“You were far more than just a photographer/videographer, but I want to say just a word about that aspect of your amazing life. I have thousands of your photos in boxes at home, the remnants of many projects we worked on together. I have looked again at many of these photos since you died, and recall vividly how you had an amazing knack for seeing in your subjects, mostly children, the spark of dignity and humanity that had often been almost crushed by their life circumstances. And you had an uncanny ability to encourage these subjects to show that spark.” –Pharis Harvey on Media Voices for Children blog.

“Robin was always covered in cameras. He was a one man show. He shot stills, video, took sound, did interviews. He filled every vacuum. He didn’t know how to delegate. He hated sharing. He wanted everything perfect and was willing to pay the price of doing it all himself. The price was physical exhaustion, illness, a candle burning at both ends. He was one of the finest natural light videographers I have known in forty years as a director-editor. And still his photographs are among the best the world has ever seen. This was the Robin I knew, working to take the perfect picture that would tell the story of a child’s life, and of our world’s indifference in one frozen second.” –Len Morris on Media Voices for Children blog.

A child is rescued by Brazil’s elite anti-slavery police | FTS Photo/Romano

12_Years_a_Slave_film_posterOscar-nominated screenwriter John Ridley is concerned that moviegoers might miss a key lesson from the poignant script he wrote for the hit movie 12 Years a Slave.

“As beautiful as this film is, one of the dangers is people will go in and say thank God we’re not like that anymore. The fact of the matter is,” Ridley said, “it is going on right now.”

Speaking Friday night on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, Ridley noted that millions are tricked into slavery today, just as Solomon Northop was in 12 Years a Slave.

The film is based on a true story — Northop was a free African-American in New York who thought he was joining a traveling musical group in the 1840s. He was trafficked to a plantation in the South until activists helped him assert his legal rights to return home.

“It can happen, it can happen here,” Ridley said about trafficking today. “Whether it’s forced labor, whether it’s sex trafficking, if there are individuals that cannot have their right of self determination, then it’s slavery.”

“There are literally tens of thousands of people here in this country right now, where it’s happening,” Ridley noted. “The places where it can happen will shock you.”

“Slavery is not just a thing of the past,” Maher said.

Ridely has been nominated for a best adapted screenplay Oscar. He transformed Northop’s original book about his ordeal in slavery into the story now being seen by millions in theaters.

Northop’s book was a best seller in the 1850s and helped propel the United States toward abolition. Learn more about the book here. The film has already won this year’s Golden Globe for best drama, and is up for nine Oscars, including best picture, on March 2nd.

Learn more about the state of slavery in the world today on the downloadable Free the Slaves Trafficking and Slavery Fact Sheet.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) opened today’s Free the Slaves and Broward College human trafficking conference this morning with a call to action.

In a video message, Rubio called on the public to pressure Congress to pass The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act (H.R. 1732) this year. The bill focuses on identifying and assisting children in foster care and welfare programs that may be trafficking victims.

Adoptions and foster care can be a “lifeline to a better life, not a path to being a trafficked victim,” Rubio said. He is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

Rubio’s comments came during the conference called “Human Trafficking: Exposing the Crisis, Devising Strategies and Solutions.”

Learn more about The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act here. Senator Rubio’s press release about the bill is here.

Follow the conversation from the conference on Twitter: #freetheslaves.