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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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Shivnarayan's Narrative (XHTML)

Shivnarayan’s children were rescued from enslavement in a carpet loom in India, in July 2005, by the Bal Vikas Ashram, one of Free the Slaves’ partner organizations that liberates and rehabilitates child slaves.

I came three years before along with my father to work at a stone mine. Due to the distressed situation of the family, my father decided to go outside the village to earn daily bread for our subsistence. After three years only my father expired. For the cremation of my father I took Rs.1000 and one tin of vanaspati Ghee from the contractor without knowing the consequences of it.
After the death of my father, I brought my five children Shyamkali (14), Nebbulal (12), Bablu (10), Gopi (8) and Ramkali (6) to work with me since there was no one to take care of these children. My wife expired six years back. Now I was in the trap of bondage which I was not able to see with my naked eyes. My children also started working with me deprived of their basic amenities. They used to break heavy stones with the hammer and chisel in their delicate hands. I felt very awful about the dejected condition of my children. All this became part of my family and it was carried on for more than a year. During this period, one of the employees at the stone mine tried to sexually harass my elder daughter. She told each and every thing to me about this case. On hearing all these things, I was very much annoyed and complained about that particular employee to the contractor. But the contractor, instead of taking any action against him started blaming me using bad words and also warned me not to come again with any other complaint otherwise he will not spare me.
I tried to leave the work and return with my family to my native village, but the contractor did not allow me to go and reminded me, until and unless I don’t return the money taken in debt, we will be not allowed to go back. Now I was able to see very clearly that my family was in bondage. My dignity was injured after my daughter’s case and anyhow I wanted to come out from the trap along with my family. In this regard I decided to escape leaving my children at the stone mine. I returned to my village and told every one about the situation but no one was there to help me. During this course of time I came to know from informal sources that Bal Vikas Ashram helps the victim in all these cases. I visited BVA and told each and every thing about the exploitation of my family. Ultimately my family was released due to sincere efforts of BVA and I wish that no other families get into the trap of bondage.