Early March includes two key dates that remind us of the importance of women in the struggle for human rights.
Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day, a global observance of the contributions made by women who are working to improve the political, social and economic status of women throughout the world.
Sunday, March 10th is the day that an inspiring American woman died, one of the bravest, selfless heroes of the anti-slavery movement: Harriet Tubman. This year is the 100th anniversary of her passing.
School kids learn the name Harriet Tubman in high school history class. She was born into a family of slaves in Maryland around 1820. At age 6, she was “rented out” as a house servant to neighbors. She suffered many years of abuse at the hands of slaveholders.
Tubman could not read or write, but she knew what she wanted — freedom. In 1849, she escaped to the free state of Pennsylvania.
Tubman could have spent the rest of her life in safety. Instead, she went on a daring quest to rescue other slaves, utilizing the network of secret routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Tubman returned to slave states in the South again and again, helping her own family and many others escape to the North. With each treacherous trip, she risked being captured or killed. She became one of the Railroad’s best “conductors.”
“No transit system ever devised could possibly surpass the ‘Underground Railroad’ for sheer nobility of purpose,” says historian Ron Soodalter, co-author with FTS Co-founder Kevin Bales of The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today. “And no ‘conductor’ demonstrated greater courage and commitment to freedom than did Harriet Tubman,” Soodalter says.
As Tubman herself said, “I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” She’s credited with guiding over 300 slaves to freedom.
Today, Tubman’s legacy continues to inspire. It’s more than a chapter in American history. It lives on in the work of slavery survivors throughout the world who are now guiding others to freedom. You can see some of them on the FTS website — recipients of the Free the Slaves Harriet Tubman Freedom Award.
This is an important year of historic anniversaries. We’ve already been commemorating the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. This month, we note that the work of Harriet Tubman is part of the historical record of anti-slavery accomplishments that should never be forgotten.
Tina Frundt has always believed in the power of creative thinking — it helped her survive sex trafficking and become a grassroots anti-slavery leader.
Her creativity has recently caught the media spotlight, allowing Tina an opportunity to show a global audience that freedom and recovery are possible for slavery survivors.
You may remember Tina as the 2010 recipient of the Free the Slaves Frederick Douglass Freedom Award. She was 14 when she was lured from her home in Chicago by an older man and forced into child prostitution.
Since her escape, she has continued to help others break free. She was featured on WUSA-TV in Washington this month, urging parents to talk to their children about sex slavery. Tina warns it could happen to anyone, anywhere.
“If you’re not explaining it, a trafficker’s explaining it to your child and he’s not telling the truth when he’s explaining it,” Tina says.
Today, Tina runs Courtney’s House, a shelter dedicated to rehabilitating survivors of sex trafficking. At night, she and her team walk the streets of Washington in search of victims. She secretly hands them a trinket, containing a hotline number. She says she’s simply doing what nobody did for her.
Tina shared her story at a recent TEDx event. She recounts that, even as a child being bounced around in the foster care system, she came up with ideas to help others, and herself.
“I was always being creative,” she says, “I was always thinking outside the box.”
Tina was also featured late last year on an AOL web series: You’ve Got.
She is an extraordinary example of how valuable it can be when slavery survivors become leaders for the movement.
“When you turn your life around, you try to get rid of the things that you think are negative,” says Tina. “Instead of changing who I was, I changed the way I thought, and did it in a positive way.”
Here’s a stylish way to state your commitment to ending trafficking and slavery. We have just partnered with a new sustainable fashion company called Hearts, to create the Free the Slaves Key 2-in-1 necklace/bracelet.
Inspired by the Free the Slaves padlock logo, jewelers designed a pewter key with the letters FTS, which can be worn on the neck or wrist. They cost $32, with $12 from every purchase going to FTS projects that help slaves break free and stay free.
It’s a unique, limited edition fashion accessory that helps make the world a more humane place. The keys are made under fair-trade slavery-free conditions. It’s an inexpensive gift to give to a friend, while giving slaves the gift of freedom. Visit Hearts to order yours.
What will you give your Valentine this year? Chocolate? Got it last year. Flowers? They’ll last a week.
This year, get your Valentine something original, something that lasts, something that changes the world.
Click on this link to make a donation to Free the Slaves and send an e-Valentine to the love in your life.
There are two cards to choose from. The photos were created by FTS supporters who found inventive ways to spell out the word FREE.
Don’t wait! When you personalize your Valentine on the FTS e-card webpage, you can choose the date it will be sent.
Thanks for your continued support!
Slavery is one of the greatest injustices of our time. We all know it. But what can you do?
You can join a new campaign called End It, which has partnered with Free the Slaves and several other groups.
End It is a two-month project that reminds young adults –and everyone else — that getting involved does not mean spending tons of cash. You can fight slavery through social media, local or national government, or by ringing the alarm bell of awareness.
End It will also shine a light on slavery with a tour to select college campuses and special-event days nationwide.
No more bondage. No more sex trafficking. No more child laborers. Starting today, Feb 1st. Check out their launch video below.