Traveling Museum Highlights Modern-Day Slavery in Florida; At NW Campus Oct. 5

Many people imagine that slavery and involuntary servitude disappeared 150 years ago, but for some farm workers it is still a reality today. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida created the traveling Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum to call attention to their ongoing anti-slavery campaign. The museum focuses on the phenomenon of modern-day slavery — its roots, the reasons it persists, and solutions.

Santa Fe will host the CIW museum at the Northwest campus, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct 5. The traveling museum will be located behind the Larry W. Tyree Library (Building Y). Presentations will be held between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the library’s Constitution Wing on the second floor. The event is free and open to the public.

Presentations include:

  • 11 a.m. – SF Profesors David Tegeder and Andy Anderson – Topic: “Labor, Law and Lynching: The Long Legacy of Forced Labor in the Deep South”
  • Noon – Representatives of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Topic: “Conditions Today”
  • 1 p.m. – SF Professor Doug Klepper – Topic: “An Enduring Peculiar Tradition – Slavery!”

The traveling museum consists of a cargo truck outfitted as a replica of the trucks involved in a recent slavery operation, accompanied by displays and interactive exhibits on the history and evolution of slavery in Florida. The museum emphasizes recent cases of slavery prosecuted in federal courts involving migrant farm workers. The exhibits were developed in consultation with workers who escaped from forced labor operations and leading academic authorities on slavery and labor history in Florida.

“Everyone who comes to see the museum can meet actual workers involved and hear directly about conditions today,” said LIbrary Director Myra Sterrett. “It makes one think about the food we eat and what it takes to get it on our plates. Most people are not aware of the conditions of farm workers.”

According to a CIW press release, three labor contractors were indicted in U.S. District Court in July 2010 and charged with human trafficking for enslaving more than 50 Haitian workers on a farm in Alachua County. The workers had their passports taken from them in Miami, they were driven to Steven Davis Farms in Alachua County, and forced to work without compensation, health care, or adequate food or shelter for more than a year. The museum highlights similar cases in the last five years from the potato and cabbage farms around Palatka and Hastings and the tomato fields near Immokalee.

The Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum has toured Florida extensively and was also hosted by the U.S. State Department and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The museum is endorsed by 10 leading human rights and anti-slavery organizations.

This event is jointly sponsored by the Santa Fe library and SF’s Social and Behavioral Sciences and Humanities departments, and was made possible by Gainesville’s Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice. For more information, please visit the museum’s website at www.ciw-online.org/museum/index.html, or contact Myra Sterrett at 352-395-5150 or myra.sterrett@sfcollege.edu.

~ This press release was written by Amanda Hernandez, Communication Specialist, College Relations

Press:

  • “Farmworker slavery exhibit shocks many during stops in Naples” – Naples Daily News article
  • “Modern-day slavery museum reveals cruelty in Florida fields” – Bill Maxwell column in the St. Pete Times

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