Last night’s best picture Oscar win for 12 Years a Slave was more that a tribute to powerful filmmaking. And the evening’s final acceptance speeches were more than ritual thanks to Hollywood insiders. The highpoint of the Oscar telecast became an awareness-raising mega-moment, alerting tens of millions of viewers that slavery didn’t end with the Civil War.
“I am dedicating this award to all the people who have endured slavery,” said 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen, “and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”
“Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live,” he said. “This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup.”
12 Years a Slave is the true story of a free African-American in New York who was tricked in the 1840s into taking a job away from home, then trafficked to slavery in the South. Solomon Northop was freed more than a decade later with help from anti-slavery activists.
“It’s been an absolute privilege to work on Solomon’s story,” said Brad Pitt, accepting the Oscar with McQueen. Pitt was one of the film’s producers, and he played the Canadian abolitionist who helped Northup break free.
McQueen also thanked historian Sue Eakin, who rescued Northup’s story from obscurity. His original manuscript was a bestseller in 1853 and helped America move closer to outlawing slavery. But it had been lost to history until Eakin rescued one of the few remaining copies and restored it in 1968.
“She gave her life’s work to preserving this book,” McQueen noted.
With three Oscar wins — best picture, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actress — 12 Years a Slave hits store shelves this week as a DVD and digital download. If you and your friends haven’t seen it, consider hosting a house party to screen the film and discuss how slavery has managed to persist in the world today. You can download the Free the Slaves house party guide for tips about how to get organized. Download our slavery fact sheet for some eye-opening statistics.
History can shape the future. Let your community know that helping people to overcome slavery isn’t just a thing of the past.
Shine a Light on Slavery Day has arrived!
Today we come together to give voice to a conversation that expresses the power of freedom. Today is the day to make anti-slavery awareness go viral.
Slavery cannot be stopped until people acknowledge this global injustice. Awareness can lead to action. Free the Slaves has joined nine other Coalition Partners in this year’s END IT campaign to prevent modern-day slavery.
You have a voice, and you can use it today to make a difference.
To find out more about modern-day slavery and what you can do to help end it, download and share the Free the Slaves Take Action Card.
Get your red markers ready. This Thursday is Shine a Light on Slavery Day! On February 27th, you can become a part of the international movement to end slavery by signaling to the world that you won’t stand for it.
Here’s how you can take action to stand for freedom for the millions who are enslaved today. Draw a red X on your right hand and join anti-slavery partners like Free the Slaves who are part of the #enditmovement campaign. Then, make freedom go viral: post a photo of your hand marked with a red X on social media.
Visit the End It website to donate to FTS, to buy clothing to promote the cause, or to download the free End It tool kit to communicate to the world that slavery still exists and that you will be the one to help stop it.
Start using your influence and voice to raise awareness now. Recruit your friends today by sharing this video—you have the power to make this year’s End It campaign a success.
Are you ready to shine a light on slavery? Let’s be the generation that ends slavery together.
It takes a special kind of person to fight for freedom and justice in dangerous hot spots where slavery still thrives. It takes a resilient and resourceful spirit to assist impoverished and marginalized people in their struggle to break free.
But that’s the job description for the staffers who direct Free the Slaves programs around the globe — sweat, grit, guts, smarts, vision, passion and compassion.
You can now see FTS country directors talking candidly about their work in three recently-released videos: What Does Slavery Look Like Today, Passion for Freedom, and Overcoming Slavery. These videos provide an in-depth look at the scope of modern-day slavery. The films feature FTS country directors sharing personal insights on how one of history’s greatest human rights abuses can be brought to an end.
“I free slaves,” says FTS South Asia Director Supriya Awasthi in one video, “I think it was a calling. I always wanted to do work where I could tangibly see change, and what has touched me the most was to see change in human lives when it was needed.”
As FTS Congo Director Jack Kohorha explains: “It is good to tell stories, but it also important to act. At Free the Slaves, it is not only a matter of reporting, we do the research and then we use the research to see how the communities can come out of slavery themselves.”
The videos illustrate the brutality of bondage and showcase the joy of freedom.
These videos are available on YouTube and Vimeo for anyone to play at awareness-raising events on campus, at work, with friends or relatives or fellow members of your faith community. Click here to find out more about how you can join the fight by hosting a FTS house party.
As FTS Ghana Director Joha Braimah tells us, “I believe that slavery can end in our lifetime if we put our minds to it and commit to this cause.”
I’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.