Officials at one of Mississippi’s historically black colleges are hoping a one of a kind academic program will help end human trafficking and exploitation.
According to the U.S. State Department, approximately 18,000 individuals are trafficked into the country every year.
Tougaloo College Professor Steve Rozman says those individuals are victims of modern day slavery.
“In the United States it’s greatly prostitution, a lot of it child prostitution,” says Rozman. “But it goes beyond that. Farm workers, who are enslaved in remote areas, people who are often foreigners are often brought in, their documents taken away and they’re working at sweatshops in some of our cities.”
Rozman is the Co-Director at Tougaloo College’s new Institute for the Study of Modern Day Slavery. The program was developed using a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help students, faculty, policymakers and others to analyze human exploitation and its eradication.
College President Beverly Wade Hogan says Tougaloo is uniquely primed to study the issue.
“Tougaloo College has a strong legacy of leading social change and social justice,” says Hogan. “We have always looked at ways that we can use our laboratories here to help strengthen democracy and help to bring about the quality of social change that would impact individuals and societies in positive ways.”
Institute Co-Director Steve Rozman says he believes the new program will help save lives.
“This is taking classroom knowledge and skills into activity,” Rozman says. “Working as the historians against slavery. Their motto is ‘using history to make slavery history’ and we’re tied in with that. Our goal is to promote an awareness and help with activity to ferret that out.”
According to State Department estimates, human trafficking and exploitation nets about $150-billion a year worldwide.