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Event Details

Public Forum and Book Signing:
      To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today's Slaves
with Kevin Bales, President, Free the Slaves
December 9, 2008

A Public Forum and Book Signing with:

  • Kevin Bales, President, Free the Slaves
  • Zoe Trodd, Research Fellow, Harvard University
  • Professor Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Lecturer on History and Literature and Adjunct Lecturer on Public Policy, Harvard University
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Co-sponsored with the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature, Harvard College

Kevin Bales, Founder and President of Free the Slaves, a leading nongovernmental organization fighting modern-day slavery, has recently published To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today's Slaves with Zoe Trodd, currently a Mellon Foundation Fellow who teaches in the History and Literature department at Harvard College. Please join us for a public forum where they will answer "10 Questions" and learn about the 21st century abolitionist movement. To Plead Our Own Cause will be available for purchase, and a book signing will be held after the forum.

Kevin Bales is President of Free the Slaves (, the U.S. sister organization of Anti-Slavery International, and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Roehampton University London and Visiting Professor at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, U. of Hull. His book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and published in ten languages. Desmond Tutu called it “a well researched, scholarly and deeply disturbing expose of modern slavery.” In 2006, his work was named one of the top “100 World-Changing Discoveries” by the association of British universities. He won the Premio Viareggio for services to humanity in 2000. The film based on Disposable People, which he co-wrote, won a Peabody Award and two Emmy Awards. He was awarded the Laura Smith Davenport Human Rights Award in 2005; the Judith Sargeant Murray Award for Human Rights in 2004; and the Human Rights Award of the University of Alberta in 2003. He was a consultant to the UN Global Program on Human Trafficking. Bales has advised the US, British, Irish, Norwegian, and Nepali governments, as well as the ECOWAS Community, on slavery and human trafficking policy. In 2005, he published Understanding Global Slavery. In 2007, he published Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves, a roadmap for the global eradication of slavery. In 2008, with Zoe Trodd, he published To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today’s Slaves; and with seven of the Magnum photographers, Documenting Disposable People: Contemporary Global Slavery. In 2009, with Ron Soodalter, he will publish The Slave Next Door: Modern Slavery in the United States; and in the same year Modern Slavery with Zoe Trodd and Alex Kent Williamson. He is currently writing a book on the relationship of slavery and environmental destruction; and with Jody Sarich, a book exploring forced marriage worldwide. He gained his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics.

Zoe Trodd teaches in the History and Literature program at Harvard and is currently a Mellon Foundation fellow. She researches American protest literature, especially the literature of abolitionism and civil rights, and her books include Meteor of War: The John Brown Story (with John Stauffer; Blackwell, 2004), American Protest Literature (Harvard University Press, 2006), To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today’s Slaves (with Kevin Bales; Cornell University Press, 2008), The Long Civil Rights Movement (Bruccoli Clark Layman, 2008), and Modern Slavery (with Kevin Bales and Alex Kent Williamson; Oneworld, 2009).

Timothy Patrick McCarthy is Lecturer on History and Literature (FAS), Adjunct Lecturer on Public Policy (HKS), and Research Fellow at Harvard's Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. Dr. McCarthy graduated with honors from Harvard College in 1993 and earned his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. His research focuses on slavery and abolition, media culture and political communications, and the history of democratic social movements. He has published two books -- The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of the American Radical Tradition (New Press, 2003) and Prophets of Protest: Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism (New Press, 2006) -- and is currently working on a new book about abolitionist writings and evolving conceptions of equality in the United States from the Revolution to Reconstruction. His reviews and essays have appeared in The Nation, In These Times, Journal of American History, Boston Globe, Gay and Lesbian Review, Souls, and other publications, and he is a regular contributor to Bloomberg Radio. An award-winning teacher and public servant, Dr. McCarthy currently serves as Academic Director of the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, a multidisciplinary college course offered free of charge to low-income adults in Dorchester, MA. As the founding director of Harvard's Alternative Spring Break Church Rebuilding Project, he has spent the last decade taking groups of students down South to help rebuild black churches that have been burned in arson attacks. Last year, he was awarded the Humble Servant Award by the National Coalition for Burned Churches for this work. Since July 2007, Dr. McCarthy has been a member of Barack Obama's National LGBT Leadership Council. He lectures widely on topics ranging from history and literature to politics and civil rights.

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