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We Cannot Rest until My People are Free

KEENE, N.H. 3/20/03 - Francis Bok, who escaped slavery in the Sudan and now works for the American Anti-Slavery Group in Boston, and Dr. Charles Jacobs, president of the AASG, will be the speakers at Keene State College’s first James D. Ewing World Affairs Lecture. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held on Thursday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room of the Student Center.

The James D. Ewing World Affairs Lecture Endowment is named in memory of James Ewing, who was the owner and publisher of The Keene Sentinel from 1954 to 1993. The Endowment has been established to bring speakers to Keene State College and the Keene community to address current public or world affairs issues.

In their address, “Modern Day Slavery,” Bok and Jacobs will challenge the belief many Americans have that slavery ended in 1865. According to the AASG, about 27 million people worldwide are enslaved today - more than at any other point in history.

In 1986, Arab militiamen in a slave raid abducted Francis Bok from a marketplace near his village in southern Sudan. For the next ten years, he slept outside with cattle, endured daily beatings, ate rotten food, and worked as a slave. After 10 years of captivity, he escaped to Egypt and was resettled to the U.S. in 1999.

Since his resettlement, Bok has dedicated his life to speaking on behalf of those who are still in bondage. He now works as an associate for the American Anti-Slavery Group in Boston. On May 23, 2000, Bok spoke out against slavery for the first time at a Capitol Hill ceremony, sharing his message with members of Congress: “We cannot rest until my people are free.”

Jacobs is president of the American Anti-Slavery Group and director of the Sudan campaign. His article in The New York Times in 1994 broke the story of slavery in Sudan and Mauritania. Since then, he has built a national abolitionist movement - in congregations, on campuses, and in schools. His work has been published or written about in national papers and reviews across the country, including The Wall St. Journal, Reader’s Digest, The New Yorker, and The Boston Globe. He has also appeared on ABC’s “World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings and CBS’s “This Morning.”

According to the AASG, 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 U.S. borders. According to the CIA, 50,000 people are being brought annually from countries around the globe, under false or misleading pretenses, and enslaved in U.S. cities.

The American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG) is America’s leading human rights organization fighting slavery worldwide.

For more information, contact Helen Frink, professor of modern languages and chair of the James. D. Ewing World Affairs Lecture committee, at 603-358-2956.

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