GCJD Demonstration Shines a Light on Slavery
It was hard to look at her. She was sitting there, hands and feet bound with rope, displaying a big black eye. It seemed as if all the life had been drained out of her. She was only about 19.
Thankfully,she was just participating in a dramatic presentation at Sam Houston State University to raise awareness about modern day slavery. But the sad fact is there are many children and young adults who are living that very nightmare right here in the United States. In fact, Houston's I-10 corridor has been labeled the number one human trafficking corridor in the nation. As many as 17,500 people are trafficked into our country each year.
Slavery is not a thing of the past. It may have been legally abolished in this country 150 years ago, but remains a very real, present day problem. It's estimated there are more than 27 million slaves around the world, many of them children. They are working in factories, homes, and brothels. Girls as young as eleven are forced into prostitution. Most slaves are sold for just 90 dollars. Can you imagine valuing someone's life at 90 dollars?
The student performance was the first in a series of SHSU events focusing on slavery. Global Center for Journalism and Democracy students put together an exhibit in the Lowman Student Center to educate students about the problem. GCJD also hosted guest speaker Shyima Hall, a former slave. Hall was sold by her family when she was 8 years old and smuggled into California. She lived as a domestic slave for 5 years before she was rescued at 13. She was denied an education, medical care, and had to use a bucket with some water to wash herself and her clothes. She slept on a squalid mattress in a windowless garage.
As horrible as her story is, it's not unique. In fact, Hall fared better than many slaves being held today.
A lot of students stopped by the campus demonstration to learn more about the problem, but just as many walked away. They couldn't be torn from their text messaging or music, and some didn't even notice there were students working to bring the reality of slavery to light. That's part of the problem. Too many people refuse to confront the evil that is present around them. We should and can do more.
“At GCJD, we try to bring attention to topics that affect society in important ways.” Kelli Arena, Executive Director stated. “It's especially gratifying when we shine a light on an issue that SHSU students and the larger community may not be thinking about.”
GCJD Events included: a student demonstration on Oct. 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the LSC Mall Area, an exhibit on Oct. 13-14 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the LSC Atrium; and finally, the GCJD Guest Speaker Series event featuring author and former child-slave Shyima Hall on Oct. 14 in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center Concert Hall at 5 p.m.
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Global Center for Journalism and Democracy
Dan Rather Communications Building, Room 201, Huntsville, TX 77340
Phone: (936) 294-4399