World Slavery Week to bring awareness

Tricia Friesen

Some of the issues facing the United States currently are the Iraq war, nuclear weapons and global warming. However, slavery and human trafficking are silent problems that plague countries around the world, including the United States.

The third annual World Slavery Awareness Week will take place Tuesday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 3. Vicky Luttrell, alumnae and graduate student of Washburn University, organized the event with the help of Bonner Scholarship Program participants.

“We hope that people will become more aware that slavery is a current issue,” said Luttrell. “We hope to give them tools to learn more and make a difference.”

Each day, activities have been planned to build awareness of slavery and human trafficking. An art exhibit, “Reflections on Modern Slavery,” will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, in the Washburn Room. The exhibit will feature various artists reflecting slavery through different mediums.

A panel of four speakers will be present from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, in Henderson Room 112. Each speaker will talk about different aspects of slavery and human trafficking including: the needs of victims of trafficking, Kansas’ involvement in abolition, music, art and raising awareness of social issues. The four speakers are: Bradley Schlozman, a U.S. Attorney from the western district of Missouri; Dan Peterson, Washburn professor and associate dean of Applied Studies, Bruce Mactavish, Washburn associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and John Paul, Washburn sociology and anthropology assistant professor.

A Freedom Concert will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, at White Concert Hall, featuring several bands, including the Invisible Children, Esther Sparks, Truckstop Honeymoon and many more. All donations will be going to aid children in Uganda. The same bands will also perform at the second annual Jam for Justice at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 3, at The Celtic Fox.

Luttrell said 20,000-50,000 people were exploited for their labor as slaves in the U.S. She thinks people in the community, officers, social services and policy agencies need more education on the subject.

“Human trafficking is an issue that is not on the radar yet,” said Luttrell. “The more people aware that it is a significant issue, more will be done to end slavery.”

This year, Luttrell targeted the Invisible Children Group to increase awareness of slavery and human trafficking. The organization was founded by three student filmmakers who wanted to raise awareness concerning the situation people of Northern Uganda are facing; they are in the middle of a civil war between the government and Joseph Kony’s Lord Resistance Army, a rebel group that kidnaps about 50,000 children a year and turns them into child soldiers. The founders created a documentary film on the situation called “Invisible Children,” to get the public’s attention and jumpstart a change in the current polices of the U.S. and Uganda governments who have let the conflict build.

Last year, the Sociology/Anthropology Club won the Student Organization Achievement Recognition award for World Slavery Awareness Week.  The club won the award as a representative of the sociology and anthropology department. The S.O.A.R. award recognizes outstanding student organizations and leaders for their accomplishments, events and leadership throughout the year.

“World Slavery Awareness Week is a reflection of a department that is supportive of student academics, initiative and involvement with a global community,” said Luttrell.