Last night in the ARCO Forum people from all parts of the effort to end slavery participated in a panel discussion intended to inspire the audience to take action, according to panelist Jesse Sage '98, the associate director of Boston-based American Anti-Slavery Group.
"We're trying to recreate what was in Boston: the center of abolitionism," Sage said.
The discussion focused on slavery in the Sudan in Africa. Despite the unified intentions of the panelists, panel and audience members sometimes disagreed over whether there are religious and ethnic origins of slavery in Sudan. They also discussed the utility and ethics of purchasing slaves from masters in order to free them, whether the Sudanese government is complicit in the enslavement of its citizens and what the responsibility of President Clinton is in speaking out on Sudanese slavery.
The panel included Sage, Dr. Shelly Leanne, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government, Francis Bok, an escaped Sudanese slave, Gerald L. Williams '03, who worked this summer on a delegation that bought the freedom of Sudanese slaves, and Wendy Patten, a member of the National Security Council.
Bok gave an opening statement which, like his testimony before Congress this September, described his capture and subsequent 10 years in slavery in the Sudan.
"For 10 years, they beat me every morning. They made me sleep with the
animals, and they gave me very bad food. They said I was an animal. For 10 years, nobody loved me" Bok said.
Bok was abducted from the primarily Christian south and enslaved in the primarily Muslim north. Bok said he was forced to convert to Islam, but still does not identify himself as Muslim.