The new abolition movement

February 26, 2007, 2:26 am | Posted by

An informal conversation at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral with David Batstone about the fight to free the 27 million persons who live in slavery today. Yes, human trafficking exists and it permeates American culture. Professor of ethics at USF and co-founder of Business 2.0 magazine, David shares his experiences traveling 90,000 miles over five continents in writing Not for Sale while documenting the return of the global slave trade and how we can stop it.

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Get to know the Not For Sale Campaign

February 8, 2007, 12:38 pm | Posted by

Go behind the façade of any major town or city in the world today and you are likely to find a thriving commerce in human beings. Nearly 200,000 people live enslaved at this moment in the United States, and an additional 17,500 new victims are trafficked across our borders every year.

Sold into slave labor and prostitution, they staff our favorite local restaurants and work the streets just fifteen blocks from our nation’s capital.

NOT FOR SALE: The Return of the Global Slave Trade–And How We Can Fight It by award-winning journalist and professor David Batstone shines a light on this 32 billion dollar industry. Batstone traveled to five continents, chronicling a shocking investigation into the world of human trafficking and the heroic abolitionists combating this global epidemic.

Go to the campaign You Tube site for more videos of David Batstone talking about the campaign to stop human trafficking.

This week a huge coordinated effort to free the 27 million people in slavery kicked off. Visual artists, businesses, students, people of faith, athletes, actors and many others have formed a new global abolition movement.

On Feb. 23, Bristol Bay Productions (Ray) releases a major motion picture on the life of William Wilberforce who combined his Christian faith with a dogged commitment to abolition. I saw the film and it actually mixes a compelling story and a serious call to faith-based social justice.

Learn more about Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace Sunday is February 18.

Check out the emerging Concert to End Slavery.

Here’s the growing Not For Sale Campaign My Space page.

Join Brian Boitano and the Free to Play campaign for athletes.

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Sundance festival films for justice and the common good

February 6, 2007, 1:07 am | Posted by

Many film critics believe that we exist in the golden age of documentary filmmaking. Several recent films shown at the recent Sundance Film Festival fuel the fight for justice and human rights.

Here’s Ghosts of Abu Ghraib by Rory Kennedy who is, yes, the daughter of RFK. I really like her film because it explores why ordinary people all too often commit extraordinary acts of violence.

In an interview with New York magazine, Rory says:

I had planned on making a film exploring the question of how ordinary people commit extraordinary acts of evil, and Abu Ghraib kept coming up. It was really with the intention of doing a psychological profile of the MPs –were these people psychopaths? Or was it the pressure of working under these conditions?

So, what did you find?

They’re perfectly normal in many ways. Javal Davis–there’s a sweetness to his eyes, an honesty to him. They did horrible things, but it was pretty obvious that these guys were told to do 95 percent of what they did.

This film will play on HBO on February 22.

Another excellent documentary to appear this year at Sundance is The Bible Tells Me So.

This film is “an exploration of the religious right’s use of the Bible to justify shutting homosexuals out of the faiths in which they’ve grown up.One of the central figures in For the Bible Tells Me So is Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first-ever openly gay man to be elected a Bishop of the Episcopalian Church. Robinson’s consecration in 2003 (at which he had to wear a bullet-proof vest due to death threats) was a historical occasion that caused a rift in the Episcopal church.” The doc also includes conversations with Desmond Tutu, Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer, the Rev. Susan Sparks, Crissy Gephardt daughter of former Presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt, and “the Poteats, an African-American family in which both parents are preachers still struggling to accept that their daughter, Tonia, is a lesbian.”

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Two views on American Blacks and Jews

January 16, 2007, 1:06 am | Posted by

This week as people celebrated the lives and mourned the deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Heschel, Mik Moore writes:

“In the 2000s, we have seen a renaissance of local Jewish groups committed to social and economic justice issues, often working closely with local black and Latino groups. Many of these organizations were formed by local Jewish activists saddened by deteriorating relationships between Jews and communities of color, and angered by the Jewish role in this deterioration. Groups like the Progressive Jewish Alliance in California have been particular successful at rebuilding burnt bridges and reestablishing trust between communities.”

Unfortunately some national politicians continue to lash out and stereotype both groups. Today, a Virginia state blog reports,

“Bloggers who oppose the Slavery Apology resolution have acquired a champion of sorts. His name? Delegate Frank Hargrove (R-55th, Hanover).

When asked what he thought of the resolution by The Daily Progress’ Bob Gibson, Hargrove reportedly replied: “I personally think that our black citizens should get over it.”

Gibson reports on Hargrove’s opposition today in The Daily Progress. Hargrove says some pretty interesting things. The quote of the day?

How far do these calls for apologies go, wondered Hargrove, a member of the House Rules Committee that could take up McEachin’s resolution as early as Wednesday.

“Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?”

Clearly we’ve still got a long way to go.

During 2006 and already this year provides some terrible examples of the racism that rides below the surface in many parts of America. From George Allen, Mel Gibson, Michael Richards to Rep. Virgil Goode and Rep. Hargrove – now’s the time to realize that multifaith and multi-ethnic American dream for which Abraham Heschel and Martin Luther King marched together.

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Martin Luther King Jr. preaches for peace

January 15, 2007, 12:36 pm | Posted by

As has been pointed out many times, too often we forget that Dr. King fought the very idea of war as a solution to conflict. As America sends another 20,000 troops off to Iraq against the majority will of the people, let us remember his prophetic words: “this business. . .cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.”

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