Sam Houston State University students and audience members alike experienced an emotional wakeup call yesterday as author Shyima Hall spoke of her personal experience as a modern-day slave.
The Global Center for Journalism and Democracy presented the program as part of their involvement with the End It Movement, a national social media effort to end modern-day slavery.
Hall’s presentation focused on raising awareness for the often-overlooked issue in today’s society. Her story shocked audience members and provided a first hand account of the horrors forced laborers and human trafficking slaves endure.
Hall urged audience members to be aware of people in the community who may be held captive as slaves and called for stricter laws regarding human trafficking.
“Honestly, a lot of people don’t know it happens, and it happens in our own country,” Hall said. “I would like to change the law to be a little bit harsher and for officers to go through training to know how to look for signs and for others to lean about the whole process.”
Hall also spoke of her love for helping people not only directly but also by informing others on what to look for. Hall now takes pride in being a mother to her daughter.
As guests entered the Gaertner Performing Arts Center, they were met with the striking image of examples of modern-day slaves as portrayed by students in SHSU’s theatre department.
During the event, students experienced a vivid interpretive dance performance of what human trafficking may look like. The dance was choreographed by junior Kaylee DeMetrotion and performed by junior Mikaela Fuller, both SHSU dance majors.
A video showcasing three individuals that were held captive in many different forms of slavery was shown as well. The video caught the attention of the audience through graphic images and reenactments, as well as providing statistics that shocked vieweers. According to the End It Movement, there are 27 million modern-day slaves – more than in the entire African slave trade.
After the dance performance, Hall began her presentation and immediately captured the ears of her audience. She told her story of being a slave from the age of 8 in Egypt to being shipped to California and to now being a mother.
She hopes to raise more awareness on the topic of modern day slavery, as should the rest of the world.