Why The Freedom Awards Are Important

Jolene Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Free the Slaves 

Free the Slaves created the Freedom Awards to celebrate today’s anti-slavery heroes and to catalyze additional innovation and resources to end slavery once and for all. The Awards program will define what successful, sustainable anti-slavery work looks like and build a vision of freedom for change-makers to adopt. 

In addition to the benefits derived by the Award winners themselves, the Freedom Awards program will:

  Dramatically expand the capacity and reach of grassroots anti-slavery programs.
  Proliferate creative and transformative leadership of people with the means to harness the energy and will of millions of people.
  Strengthen the infrastructure of the modern anti-slavery movement to last through the phases of abolition and the rehabilitation/reintegration of people who are currently enslaved.
  Provide inspiration and hope, through the personal stories and unquenchable determination of survivors of slavery, that will help fuel the anti-slavery movement through to eradication.

The longer term impacts of these Awards include defining, providing models for and disseminating what is known about ‘good practice’ of anti-slavery interventions at the community level, generating new knowledge about techniques for stopping slavery, inspiring increased funding and support for these interventions and informing responses to slavery at the policy level. The Freedom Awards will continually identify ‘the next frontier’ for the anti-slavery movement and demonstrate the next strategic steps that need to be taken to achieve a world without slavery.

The Freedom Awards are an outgrowth of Free the Slaves’ role within the global anti-slavery movement as an organization seeking to provoke innovative ideas and thoughtful reflection on what techniques have worked and which ones still need to be tried. Free the Slaves is guided by its work with community-based anti-slavery organizations in 5 countries where together they free people from slavery, help them rebuild their lives, and create fundamental change to bring slavery to an end.

The first Awards ceremony was held in 2008, 200 years after the law prohibiting the importation of slaves into the United States was enacted.

Each award salutes an individual who had significant impact on slavery both within the United States and elsewhere, and on the response of  Americans and others’ to slavery around the world. Their spirit continues on through the individuals and generations they brought to freedom, and today’s abolitionists who are inspired by their legacy.

Please visit the 2009 Freedom Awards page at FreeThe Slaves.net and watch the award ceremony video.


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