Anti-Slavery Groups

Free the Slaves

Free the Slaves is a not-for-profit organization made up of people who don't want to live in a world with slavery. Their work is multi-pronged, working on the frontlines, researching the issue, advocating for policy change, and spreading the word that slavery exists today and can be eradicated.

Human Trafficking Students

Human Trafficking Students is an emerging cross-school  research and advocacy consortium in Boston, MA. Participants in this network are from a range of schools including Tufts, Northeastern, Harvard, UMass-Boston, Brandeis, Simmons, Boston University, Babson, Wellesley, and others.

"Our secret weapon: the investigative reporter." Excerpts from Bales's presentation

"Investigative journalists have led all four of the great anti-slavery movements (including some unknown heroes)."

A selected list:

Lydia Cacho
Lydia Maria Child
Thomas Clarkson
Frederick Douglass
Abigail Scott Duniway
Olaudah Equiano
William Lloyd Garrison
Nicholas Kristof
Meredith May
Edmond Dene Morel 
E. Benjamin Skinner
George Washington Williams

"Free the Slaves," Kevin Bales  

Social Justice Leadership Series
Inaugural event
September 2, 2009

Dr. Kevin Bales, noted researcher, discusses contemporary slavery and modern anti-slavery movement. Bales explains his research, concluding that 27 million people are enslaved today and noted that journalists have been key in every abolition movement.

Modern-day emancipation: Dr. Kevin Bales talks about ending modern slavery
by Rebecca Klein, The Justice 

"Flash back to 1850. You are in Alabama, picking cotton for 15 hours a day and getting paid nothing. At any moment you could be separated from your family and sent to another plantation as part of the national slave trade.

"Now, flash forward to 2009. You are still working 15-hour days and getting paid nothing; however, instead of working in a field, you are cleaning houses in a suburb of Washington, D.C. This time, instead of being enslaved under a national, legal form of commerce, you were lured into slavery under the false pretenses of money and education.

"But isn't slavery illegal?" More>

Reader Commentary:
  Bales' slavery talk affects students

By Jonah Seligman, The Justice

The article "Modern-day emancipation" (Features, Sept. 8) about the recent lecture at Brandeis by contemporary abolitionist Dr. Kevin Bales captured well the power of the event. Along with the rest of the standing-room-only crowd in Rapaporte Treasure Hall, I listened raptly as Dr. Bales discussed the forms and methods of human bondage occurring both globally and within our own society today. I was heartened to hear that liberating and acclimating former slaves to freedom is quite possible. We, in this land of plenty, have a moral obligation to end slavery domestically and internationally, particularly given that, as Bales told us, the cost is a fraction of what we devote to, say, war efforts. More>

Free the Slaves co-founder highlights opening SoJust Leadership Series event


"About 27 million people are in slavery in the world today and some 17,000 slaves enter the United States each year, anti-slavery activist Kevin Bales told Brandesians attending the inaugural program of the Social Justice Leadership Series on Sept. 2.

"Bales, who is president of Free the Slaves, said most of the slaves being brought into this country are forced into prostitution. Other leading uses of slaves are as agricultural workers and domestic servants. He said the U.S. government does little to eliminate this involuntary servitude.

"Bales quantified modern slavery in ways that were both sobering and encouraging to those seeking abolition." More>

Selected journalists and investigative reporters active in the abolitionist movement

Lydia Cacho (born 1963)

Cacho is a Mexican journalist who has exposed the players in a Cancun-based child sex and pornography ring. She detailed child prostitution in Mexico in her 2005 book "Los Demonios Del Edén" (The Demons of Eden: The Power that Protects Child Pornography).

In fearlessly documenting the sexual abuse of children by the wealthy and powerful in Mexicans society, Cacho has been detained and threatened with rape and death by police. Cacho's work was rewarded with Amnesty International’s 2007 Ginetta Sagan Award for Women and Children's Rights.

The Washington Post
New America Media
Amnesty USA

Lydia Maria Child

Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846)

Clarkson was a British abolitionist, whose many essays helped spur a national movement in opposition to the slave trade, eventually resulting in the end of the slave trade and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

Clarkson began his abolitionist activities at Cambridge University through participation in an essay contest entitled: "Is it right to make men slaves against their wills?" He would go on to form the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and was a member of the Committee for Abolition of the African Slave Trade. As a member of the Committee, Clarkson spent two years on a fact-finding mission to acquire evidence against the slave trade. He conducted over 20,000 interviews with sailors and obtained equipment used on slave ships to document the trade. His research would result in the 1787 pamphlet "A Summary View of the Slave Trade and of the Probable Consequences of Its Abolition" and the 1807 book "History of the Abolition of the African Slave Trade." His writings inspired the public and legislators to support anti-slavery legislation.

Spartacus Educational
Brycchan Carey

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)

Douglass was one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement in the United States. An escaped slave, Douglass virtually taught himself to read and write. He was a prolific and noted orator whose speeches on the ills of slavery on the individual and society stirred many hearts. He also authored several autobiographies, most notably "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written By Himself" in 1845 as well as a the abolitionist weekly newspaper the "North Star" to arouse anti-slavery sentiment.

Douglass’s writings were particularly influential in provoking opposition to slavery given his eloquence, fiery passion, and unique perspective as a former slave.

During the Civil War, Douglass "conferred with Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and recruited northern blacks for the Union Army.” Following the War, he continued to advocate for the rights of blacks and women through oratory and writings.

Abigail Scott Duniway

Olaudah Equiano

William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879)

Garrison was arguably the most famous abolitionist in the United States during the 19th century. Originally an advocate of sending free blacks back to Africa, Garrison’s views changed as he came to support complete manumission.

Most famously, Garrison would found and edit the anti-slavery newspaper the Liberator. In the paper’s first issue, Garrison wrote, "I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. . . . I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—AND I WILL BE HEARD." Garrison’s paper termed the Constitution a “devil’s compact” for tacitly allowing slavery and forcefully denounced the immorality of the institution. “In 1832 he helped organize the New England Anti-Slavery Society, and, the following year, the American Anti-Slavery Society. These were the first organizations dedicated to promoting immediate emancipation.”


Nicholas Kristof (born 1959)

Kristof is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times whose exposés of sexual slavery across continents has garnered him acclaim and forced the world to confront the horrifying realities of modern-day slavery.

The New York Times

Meredith May

May is a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle who wrote a four-part series on sex slavery rings in San Francisco that extend all the way to Southeast Asia. She has also shined a light on the efforts of an elderly Nepalese women to end domestic slavery in her country.

The Pulitzer Center

Edmond Dene Morel (1873-1924)

Edmond Dene MorelMorel was a Frenchmen who witnessed and exposed the exploitative economic practices the Belgian government forced upon the Congolese people during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in a series of articles entitled "The Congo Scandal." Morel documented the brutality of King Leopold II’s military forces, including forcing Congolese men into labor, raping Congolese women, and destroying the natives’ property. His writings awakened the consciousness of many Europeans to the cruelty and injustice endured by Africans during the age of imperialism.

Sparticus Educational

E. Benjamin Skinner (born 1976)

George Washington Williams (1849-1891)

George Washington WilliamsWilliams was a 19th century soldier, politician, historian, clergyman, and journalist who visited the Congo in the late 19th century. His experience there shocked him, and he wrote articles for the publisher S.S. McClure documenting the depraved treatment of the Congolese under Belgian rule. He also wrote "An Open letter To His Serene Majesty Leopold II, King of the Belgians and Sovereign of the Independent State of Congo" and "A Report Upon the Congo-State and Country to the President of the Republic of the United States" to make the world aware of the horrors occurring in Africa.

PA Center for the Book

Journalist synopses written by Jonah Seligman, research assistant, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.