NORMAN – Eleven students from colleges and universities across the United States attended the Oklahoma Scholar-Leadership Enrichment Program seminar, “Slavery since Emancipation,” from Jan. 5 through Jan. 9, at the University of Oklahoma.
Legal slavery existed in a few countries into the 21st century and up to 30 million people remain victims of slavery today. During this five-day seminar, students examined the relationship between slavery and the supply chains of multinational trade. Seminar topics included: human trafficking and the sex trade, debt slavery and the lived experiences of contemporary slaves. Students had the opportunity to learn about social action and how to organize for justice.
Internationally noted anti-slavery scholar and activist, Kevin Bales, led the seminar. He is the co-founder of Free the Slaves in Washington D.C., the U.S. sister organization to the world’s oldest human rights group founded in 1787, Anti-Slavery International.
A University of Hull, U.K. professor of contemporary slavery at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, he has been invited to advise countries in Europe, South Asia and West Africa on the formulation of policy affecting slavery and human trafficking and has served as a consultant to the United Nations’ Global Program on Trafficking of Human Beings.
During his career, he has addressed the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Paris in 2008, joined in the planning of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative, collaborated with the U.S. National Institute of Justice and with the Human Rights Center at Berkeley. He currently serves on the International Cocoa Initiative, an organization that works to safeguard child rights in cocoa-growing communities.
College juniors, seniors and graduate students have the opportunity to study with nationally noted scholars during intensive seminars presented by the state-funded OSLEP program. Additionally, participants can earn two or three hours of college course credit for each seminar they complete successfully.
Oklahoma students who attended are as follows:
Taylor Dismuke, biology, Langston University
Lucy Mahaffey, international studies, University of Oklahoma
Casey Pattillo, accounting, University of Oklahoma
Andrea Pemberton, anthropology, University of Oklahoma
Ashlea Tillison, sports media/sociology, Oklahoma State University
Patience Williams, English, Oklahoma City University