At the 2014 Academy Awards, 12 Years a Slave, the story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, racked up the accolades: best picture, best adapted screenplay, and best supporting actress. Now that we've seen Northrup's story at our local multiplex, and it has won Hollywood's biggest awards, are we finished with stories about slavery? While some Americans don't understand why we have to talk about it anymore and wish everyone would just "move on," the United Nations doesn't feel the same way.
Every year the U.N. designates March 25 asInternational Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The day honors the more than 15 million men, women, and children who suffered and died because of slavery. The U.N. also aims to raise "awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today."
Two of Northrup's descendants—Irene Northup-Zahos, a 72-year-old retired nurse who's Northrup's great-great-granddaughter, and Melissa Howell, Northrup's 42-year-old great-great-great-granddaughter—are teaming with the International Labour Organization and journalist Holly Young for a Google Hangout about Northrup's legacy and the horrors of modern-day slavery: Forced labor and human trafficking across the world.
According to the ILO's 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour, about "21 million people are victims of forced labor—11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys." Like Solomon Northrup, they're "trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave."
Tune in to the hangout today at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT.