News Release

News Release Library
November 14, 2010

Author Ron Soodalter Discusses The Slave Next Door: Human Slavery in America Today

The Kozmetsky Center invites the community to a public lecture with Ron Soodalter, author of The Slave Next Door, about the current issues facing our society due to the illegal slave trade and trafficking in America. He will also examine the current effects human trafficking has on our society and how new movements are aiming to finally put an end to this blight on the nation. He will speak on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in Jones Auditorium.

Through Soodalter’s research, he uncovered that there are about 27 million people enslaved in the world today. That’s twice as many people as were taken from Africa during the 350 years of the Atlantic Slave Trade. It is one of the most profitable criminal enterprises in the world. What do we need to do to ensure that every person in the world can rely on just laws for his or her protection?

Before writing his book, The Slave Next Door, Soodalter like many other history students, thought that slavery in the United States ended with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. After extensive research he found that slavery has always existed, from the days of its European discovery to the present day. Christopher Columbus enslaved the Taino Indians, which resulted in slavery becoming the social and economic order. Even after Civil War, and until the 1960s, planters practiced a form of debt bondage known as peonage, binding workers and their families to the land in an unending cycle of slavery.

Today, with the global population more than tripled since World War II, and with national borders collapsing around the world, people — in their desperate quest for a way to survive — have become easy targets for human traffickers. And once again, America is a prime destination. Soodalter believes that “people fall into debt to come here for the chance to earn a living, and perhaps to support or bring over their families, but instead of opportunity, they find slavery.”

Soodalter, an expert on global and domestic human slavery, has taught throughout the New York area and currently serves on the Board of the Abraham Lincoln Institute. In addition to his books, Hanging Captain Gordon and The Slave Next Door, he has been a featured writer in magazines such as Smithsonian, Civil War Times, Portland, New York Archives, and True West, and is a featured columnist for America’s Civil War. He is also the recipient of the International Regional Magazine Association's 2010 Gold Award.

Established through a gift from Ronya Kozmetsky and her late husband, George, the Kozmetsky Center of Excellence in Global Finance promotes understanding of global issues.

The Kozmetsky Center’s programs present a broad spectrum of experts who are chosen for their ability to enrich the intellectual life of the university community, as well as to inform the broader public. Their presence is part of St. Edward's University’s efforts to generate discussion of major national and international policy issues.

More information about the Kozmetsky Center.

More information about Ron Soodalter

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