NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania, Sept. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A group of United States civil rights leaders from diverse backgrounds (listed below) is currently on a historic trip through Mauritania through September 15th to support the courageous efforts of Mauritanians working to eradicate slavery and its legacy in their country.
Mauritania criminalized slavery in 2007 and a wide variety of local advocates and organizations have been working tirelessly to bring freedom to all residents of the West African nation. The first successful prosecutions of Mauritanian slaveholders took place last year and new initiatives to combat race and descent based slavery are providing momentum in the centuries-long effort to eradicate the brutal practice for good.
The Chicago-based Abolition Institute, profiled by CNN for its work on the issue, organized the trip with iconic civil rights organization Rainbow PUSH Coalition to further develop partnerships between American and Mauritanian leaders working to end slavery. Delegation members are working to offer solidarity and support to all those working for freedom in a country once called "Slavery's Last Stronghold."
"Many of us from the 'Land of Lincoln' felt we could honor the legacy of our state – and of the countless American abolitionists who sacrificed for this cause - by supporting those struggling just as hard against slavery in the 21st century," said Abolition Institute Co-Founder Sean Tenner of Chicago. "Over the past several years the movement we are a part of has become even more global and more committed. The world is recognizing true heroes in Mauritania."
The Abolition Institute worked with policymakers such as U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois to win support for State Department-funded programs in Mauritania that assist those coming out of slavery. It has built connections between Islamic organizations in the United States and Mauritania, highlighting efforts of Muslim leaders in both countries to work towards freedom and equality. Along with Grammy and Oscar winning recording artist Che "Rhymefest" Smith of Chicago and Donda's House Inc., the Abolition Institute is also using the arts as a means to help people across the globe express their desire for freedom.
All delegation members listed below, as well as Mauritanian anti-slavery leaders, are available for interviews to share their unique perspectives on this fundamental human rights issue.
Dr. Aisha El-Amin, Islamic Scholar and Chief of Staff, Office of the Provost, University of Illinois at Chicago
Professor Jonathan Jackson, National Spokesperson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and son of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
Minister Lynda Holiday Lawrence, Board of Directors, the Abolition Institute and winner of the 2017 Aichana Abeid Boilil Award for advocacy against slavery in Mauritania. Minister of International Social Justice and Human Rights with TUCC Justice Watch Team.
Judge David Abdullah Shaheed, Marion (Indiana) Superior Court
Judge Anthony Na'eem Simpkins (Ret.), Board of Directors, the Abolition Institute
Che "Rhymefest" Smith, Grammy and Oscar winning recording artist (most recent: Best Original Song Oscar for "Glory" from the 2015 film "Selma" on the American civil rights movement)
Donnie Smith, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Donda's House Inc.
Bakary Tandia, Abolition Institute Co-Founder and native of Mauritania; currently a leader in New York City's African immigrant community
Shiwali Varshney, Founder of Tribhang, a Chicago-based organization using the performing arts to teach about global women's rights issues
For More Information Contact (travelling in Mauritania):
Abolition Institute Co-Founder Sean Tenner
Sean@StoppingSlavery.org / (312) 576-8822
Abolition Institute Co-Founder Bakary Tandia (English, French, Soninke and Fulani languages)
Info@StoppingSlavery.org / (347) 683-4204
Rainbow PUSH Coalition Director of International Programs James Gomez
JGomez@RainbowPush.org / (202) 549-0395
Grammy and Oscar winning recording artist Che "Rhymefest" Smith
RhymefestAssistant@Gmail.com / (312) 590-7480
SOURCE The Abolition Institute