There are many words around the world for slaves and slavery. In Finland, the word is orjat. And it’s on the cover of the FTS book Ending Slavery, which is now available in Finnish.
In Ending Slavery, FTS Co-founder Kevin Bales outlines what’s needed to eradicate slavery once and for all – with concrete steps to be taken by faith communities, corporations, governments, foundations, international institutions and anyone who wants to end one of history’s greatest abuses of human rights.
“Read Kevin Bales’ practical and inspiring book, and you will discover how our world can be free at last,” says South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Now, people in Finland can do just that.
“Finland is a small country, but it is world leader in peace-making, social policy, and successfully caring for its citizens. With focus and energy, it could become the first truly slave-free country and show the rest of us how to really end slavery,” Kevin says.
Research for Ending Slavery was based largely on FTS field projects and advocacy initiatives around the world. As author, Kevin won the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order from the University of Louisville.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton held up his copy of Ending Slavery at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, telling audience members that the book is an invaluable blueprint for ending slavery.
“It is a problem we can solve, and here’s how to do it,” Clinton said.
There is great news to share with you today. I am pleased to announce that three remarkable individuals will be joining Free the Slaves. Two have been elected to our board of directors, Gary Gold-Moritz and Gregory Haile. The third, Mark Allen Trozzi, will assist the board as an advisor.
Gary Gold-Moritz has been the chief operating officer at the organization Public Justice since October 2010. Previously, he was COO at the Children’s Law Center in Washington. After graduating law school at the University of California, Berkeley, Gary studied environmental law and sustainable development in India, practiced corporate law at O’Melveny & Myers, served as general counsel for small technology companies and owned and operated a home repair business. Gary was the first COO at the Children’s Law Center, and oversaw significant growth, implemented strategic planning, and ensured smooth operations. At Public Justice, where he is also the first COO, Gary oversees all finance and administration operations along with the communications and development departments, and works closely with the group’s executive director.
Gregory A. Haile is the general counsel and vice president for public policy and government affairs for Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He was educated at the Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and served as Editor-in-Chief of the National Black Law Journal; and Arizona State University, where he graduated magna cum laude and was selected as the most outstanding undergraduate in his college. Gregory joined Broward College in 2011 after working at several law firms including, most recently, Berger Singerman. He oversees broad-ranging legal issues relating to tax, immigration, employment, labor, copyright, real estate, construction and tenure. Further, he oversees all local, statewide, and federal government affairs, including advocating before local, state and congressional leaders to enhance their understanding of higher education issues. Gregory spends significant time serving the community-at-large.
Mark Allen Trozzi is an independent management consultant based in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. He provides project management support and analysis for a wide range of for-profit and nonprofit organizations, as well as filling-in as chief operating officer or chief financial officer when needed. Mark has served in executive positions at Engender Health, Spree.com, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Amnesty International USA, and The Sherwin-Williams Co., among others. He earned a Masters of Science in Management from the Sloan School at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mark will advise FTS as a member of our board’s finance and audit committee.
This month’s additions to the board come as we bid a grateful farewell to long-term board member Franka Jordan. She has served two terms, the maximum allowed. Franka helped usher FTS through an intensive period of transition and growth. Her expertise in organizational development has been a key to the success of our organization. On behalf of the Free the Slaves staff and board, I’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Franka for her extraordinary dedication and service. She will continue to help FTS as volunteer advisor to the board’s programs committee.
They had never been in the media spotlight before, and no one was sure what would happen. Four slavery survivors would face journalists to say that it is time to take a stand against bonded labor slavery in northern India.
It wasn’t the way news briefings are usually conducted. They are usually the province of experts and activists, not slavery survivors.
It turned out that the news conference was a tremendous success. Reporters discovered new ways to think about an old problem. Activists discovered new ways to get their message out through the media. And the four survivors discovered that their stories of overcoming bondage are powerful tools in the struggle to eradicate slavery for all.
The news conference was the culmination of a two-day training workshop conducted by Free the Slaves in Varanasi. FTS has determined that strengthening the communications capacity of our frontline partner groups should be an integral part of our technical assistance training and support. This includes helping groups to improve the way they communicate to four key audiences:
- People in slavery and in vulnerable communities;
- Politicians, government officials, international non-governmental organizations and other influential actors who can help foster lasting systemic change;
- Journalists who can spread awareness about slavery and ways to overcome it;
- Potential donors who can diversify sustainable funding streams for frontline work.
The training project in India, conducted earlier this year, served as our pilot project. Seventeen participants attended from our frontline partner organizations, JEEVIKA, MSEMVS, PGS and the Punarnawa Ashram. They learned valuable communications skills:
- How to develop communications strategies, messages and materials to effectively reach slaves;
- How to create compelling case studies that demonstrate it is possible to overcome slavery;
- How to create effective fact sheets and background documents that quickly summarize the scope and impact of slavery, as well as ways to end it;
- How to reach journalists with news releases and plan effective media events.
“Earlier we used a very traditional way of communicating with media, which was not so effective, hence we did not get desired results,” said one participant at the end of the workshop. “We now feel confident to interact with media.”
The “media event was a good exercise,” said another participant. “It will help us in giving a platform to former slaves.”
FTS plans to conduct communications training in all of our frontline country projects, as funding permits.
Learn more about our program in India on the FTS website.
If you haven’t heard about the story of Solomon Northup, you will hear about it soon.
It’s about to become a major motion picture featuring Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard, Paul Giamatti and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
If you’re not the movie-going type, you can experience Northup’s spellbinding story on audio book, performed by actor and humanitarian Louis Gossett Jr.
Free the Slaves will receive 20 percent of the proceeds if you enter FREETHESLAVES into the promo code window when downloading the audio book from Downpour.com.
Originally published in 1853, Northup’s autobiography was an immediate bombshell in the national debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War.
He was born free, but was kidnapped and sold into slavery.
He toiled in bondage for a dozen years before his rescue.
Northup’s true story validated Harriett Beecher Stowe’s fictional account of Southern slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which had significantly changed public opinion in favor of abolition.
Frederick Douglass said this about Twelve Years a Slave: “Its truth is far greater than fiction.”
The audio book is receiving praise as well.
“Gossett infuses the words with a quiet, seething power,” says AudioFile Magazine.
Twelve Years a Slave was lost to history by the early 20th century, when it could not be located by libraries, stores or catalogues. Then a 12-year-old avid reader in central Louisiana ‐ the future Sue Eakin, Ph.D. ‐ reached upon the library shelf of a planation home and discovered a dusty copy of the book. Eakin went on to write her master’s thesis about Solomon Northup’s story, and after decades of research, produced the first authenticated edition of the book in 1968.
A congressional briefing last Friday on Capitol Hill highlighted many reasons why American companies should be required to disclose if their products are manufactured by slaves or with slavery-tainted raw materials.
“Government can help, without being in the knickers of business too much, to encourage transparency,” said Mark Lagon, who is an international affairs professor at Georgetown University.
Lagon, who moderated the session, began the briefing by expressing support for federal regulations to require large publicly-held companies to report annually on slavery in their product supply chains.
“I’m a Republican,” Lagon said, and “this is the kind of formula…that makes the most sense in my mind.” Ambassador Lagon is the former Bush-appointed director of the State Department’s anti-trafficking office.
Lagon said that businesses not only have a “moral duty” to eliminate slavery from consumer products, they also have “a great interest in sussing it out. “
Bennett Freeman of Calvert Investments told the briefing that companies who use slaves are running legal risks that investors should know about.
“We have a particular perspective as investors,” Freeman said, a “hard-headed sense of investment risk. We simply do not want to invest in companies that knowingly are complicit, however indirectly, in human trafficking.”
Freeman represents Calvert’s portfolio of socially-responsible investment funds. He noted that states like California are already taking steps to require corporate disclosure, and it’s important for Congress to create a level regulatory playing field throughout the U.S.
“We do support legislation at the federal level to have uniformity,” he said.
FTS Programs Director Karen Stauss has been instrumental in advocating for a federal corporate transparency bill. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney intends to introduce legislation requiring corporate disclosures this fall.
Corporate transparency “ends up being good for the company,” Stauss said at Friday’s briefing, noting that several firms have begun to investigate and remove slavery from their supply chains in eastern Congo. “They are being lauded loudly and publicly,” she said.
The most moving part of the briefing came when Flor Molina spoke. She was trafficked from Mexico to the garment sweatshops of Los Angeles. She had been lured by offers of a good job that would allow her to send money home to support her children. “When I arrived in Los Angeles,” she said, “I realized everything was a lie.”
Molina was punched and humiliated in front of other workers to keep her in line. She was told that nobody would help her if she tried to escape. “Even cows have more rights in this country than I have,” she recalls being told by her trafficker.
Molina did escape and is now a leading figure in California’s anti-trafficking movement.
“I think it’s important to implement laws,” she said. “If there were laws…that made companies responsible for their supply chain, I wouldn’t have fallen into trafficking.”
See more photos of the briefing here.