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Anti-Slavery Panel Discussion Dec. 2 at WIU

November 20, 2015

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MACOMB, IL - The 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted on Dec. 6, 1865, states that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

On Dec. 2, 1949, the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others declared, "Prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and endanger the welfare of the individual, the family and the community."

To commemorate these events and their legacies, the panel discussion "Commemorating the Abolition of Slavery: Work to Do" will be held from noon-1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2 in the Western Illinois University Multicultural Center. The event is cosponsored by the WIU departments of history and political science, the WIU Women's Center, the Western Against Slavery (WAS) and Feminist Action Alliance (FAA) student organizations and the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Committee (IVPC). Speakers will include Associate Professor of History Tim Roberts; African American Studies Chair Erik Brooks and Cathy O'Keeffe, director of the Quad Cities NGO Braking Traffik, a Quad Cities anti-human trafficking organization.

"We often say that slavery ended in 1865, but did it?" Roberts questioned. "American industries relied on prison labor, 'convict leasing,' until World War II. Today the 13th amendment does not forbid slavery as criminal punishment. Meanwhile, human trafficking—another form of modern slavery–is a multi-billion dollar global industry, including in western Illinois. The panel will discuss these challenges of declaring slavery over and actually doing it."

Roberts is the faculty advisor of WAS, which encourages students and teachers to take action within their circles of influence against modern slavery and human trafficking.

"This awareness may impact how you view history, economics, race relations, women's and children's rights, what you buy, how you understand current events or even what you choose as a career," said Roberts.

Braking Traffik is an organization dedicated to eradicating sex trafficking in Iowa and Illinois. It was founded by former Iowa Senator Maggie Tinsman, a leader of the Iowa government's toughening of punishments of traffickers and care for trafficking victims.

For additional information about the panel discussion, contact Roberts at (309) 298-1053 or via e-mail at For more information about WAS, visit

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