A Humanitarian Nightcap With Ashley Judd: The Human Trafficking Panel

A small showing of Harvard came out to hear the Next Harvard Thinks Big Experts talk about the pressing issue of modern-day slavery and human trafficking on the evening of March 24, 2010. The panel consisted of professor Tim McCarthy, the Director of Human Rights and Social Movements at Harvard’s own Carr Center, professor of Sociology Orlando Patterson, journalist and author of A Crime So Monstrous Benjamin Skinner, author of Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern-Day Slavery Siddharth Kara, Katherine Chon, the founder of Polaris Project, an organization fighting for a world without slavery, and the headliner of the event Ashley Judd, actress and YouthAIDS global ambassador with Population Services International as well as a current student in Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

After Professor McCarthy’s long winded introduction of the big-shots of the panel, during which Professor Patterson squirmed, fidgeted, and fought to open his Evian water bottle, the panel was asked to speak of the roads that led them to become crucial figures of the modern slavery abolition movement. The drastically different stories of the panelists underlined the personal significances the cause has had in their lives.

Siddharth Kara, for example, threw his career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch aside to use his background in finance and law in order to start a campaign to research current forms of slavery around the world to eventually gather his research and provide a foundational legal and statistical analysis of the business of modern-day slavery. Ms. Judd related her story and role in the issue of slavery with the composure and charisma of a Hollywood actress, not failing to downplay her celebrity by throwing out how humbled she is to be on the same panels with her heroes and role models. She also warned the moderate number of people in the audience that she would have to dip out early because she had a conference call awaiting her. Judd recalled her experiences in the brothels of Cambodia and Thailand, where her mission was to ensure women trapped in slavery were protecting their health.

Notable tales of the remaining panelists included Chon’s jump to volunteer work after her teacher in high school asked, or more specifically yelled, “What is your passion?” and Skinner’s first encounter with the subject of slaver at a Quaker meeting and later travels to all parts of the globe as part of his journalistic mission to interview different people with roles in slavery.

Professor Patterson, meanwhile, focused on the impact that the history of slavery in Jamaica, his native country, has had on his work. Among his many written works, including three books and features in the New York Times, Patterson was a founding member of Cultural Survival, one of the leading advocacy groups for the rights of indigenous peoples.

The panelists were enlightening in their expertise and undoubtedly allowed the audience members to leave with new knowledge. In addition, they could have left with a trinket or two or a tote bags on sale outside the lecture hall venue whose sale benefited some organization or other. Bracelets for a good cause and a sprinkling of good karma are always a plus.

source: http://verynoice.com/2010/03/a-humanitarian-nightcap-with-ashley-judd-the-human-trafficking-panel/

Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 7:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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