February 14, 2003

Escaped Slave and Abolitionist to Deliver Call to Action in San Diego

On Thursday, February 20, 2003, escaped Sudanese slave Francis Bok and human rights leader Tommy Calvert, Jr. will speak out against modern-day slavery at the University of San Diego’s Institute for Peace and Justice at 7:00 p.m.

While most Americans believe that slavery ended in 1865, the reality is that an estimated 27 million people worldwide are enslaved today, more than at any other point in history.

Francis Bok will speak about the horrors of slavery from his personal experience. In 1986, he was abducted at age seven during a slave raid on his village in southern Sudan. Bok saw adults and children brutalized and killed all around him. For ten years, he slept outside with cattle, endured daily beatings, ate rotten food, and worked as a slave. Today, Bok has gone from slavery to celebrity testifying before Congress, meeting with President Bush, and traveling across the country giving a voice to those who are silenced by human bondage.

Tommy Calvert is the Chief of External Operations for the American Anti-Slavery Group and helps lead the American Anti-Slavery Group’s awareness, empowerment, and advocacy agenda. In September 2002, Calvert accompanied a fact-finding mission to Thailand to investigate slavery in both Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). In April 2002, Calvert joined a rescue mission to Sudan to liberate 6,000 people from bondage.

Modern-day slavery is defined as “forced labor without pay under the threat of violence.” Contemporary slavery includes debt bondage, chattel, and sex slavery. The United States legally abolished slavery more than a century ago, but slavery still exists within our borders. According to the CIA, 50,000 people are being brought from countries around the globe, under false or misleading pretenses, and enslaved in U.S. cities.

In April 2002, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department discovered that Mexican females as young as 12 years old were smuggled into a brothel and forced to engage in sexual relations with as many as 10 Mexican migrant workers per hour in Oceanside. Collaborative efforts by local, federal, and Mexican officials resulted in the ‘Safety Corridor,’ a recently implemented program to provide relief for victims of slavery.

Return to the Frontpage