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Antislavery Poetry from San Francisco

Running man image from workshop poster

The Pacific Appeal was the leading African American newspaper on the West Coast during the early 1860s.  A newly-published set of eight antislavery poems from the journal's inaugural 1862 volume captures the sense of expectancy within the African American community for the imminent end of US slavery.  These poems include the work of James Madison Bell, a San Francisco plasterer, brickmason, and poet.  Read more... 
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Gun's Narrative (XHTML)

This is a letter was written by a 25-year-old Thai woman from an impoverished rural family, to her Japanese lawyer. In 1991, Gun and two Thai friends escaped from their captor by stabbing her to death. They fled with her bag, thinking that it contained their passports. They did not know that in the bag there was seven million yen ($80,000) in cash. They were arrested in the same night. In 1994 the prosecutor charged them with premeditated murder and they received a life sentence - though due to international campaigns and petitions their imprisonment was reduced and they were released in 1999.
I was told by an acquaintance to work at his restaurant in Japan. I decided to accept his offer as I thought my family might improve their life if I sent them my salary. Soon after my arrival in Japan, I realized that I was sold. My life since then has been like that of an animal.
I was sold three times. I begged my last owner to let me go home but she said I owed her lots of money that I had to pay back by sleeping with customers. I was always scolded and forced to do all kinds of terrible things.
It is impossible to describe how horrible and miserable my life was. For six and a half months, I was totally controlled by her. Every day I had to go out and sleep with men. I had no physical or spiritual freedom. She threatened that wherever I escaped to, I would be traced and killed and so would my parents in Thailand.
What I did was the only way to set me free from her. There was no other alternative.