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International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Slave Trade

ILO live chat with descendants of the hero from “12 Years A Slave”

Media advisory | 21 March 2014
ILO will mark the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Slave Trade on March 25 by hosting a Google+ Hangout with the descendants of Solomon Northup, whose life and memoir inspired the 2013 Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave.

The event will take place at 11.00 EST / 15.00 GMT / 16.00 CET and viewers can tune in live and submit questions for the participants at any of the following links:

Melissa Howell is a great-great-great granddaughter of Northup. Today she’s an arts manager in upstate New York and says that stories about her ancestor played an important role in her upbringing as she learned about what it means to be descended from African-American slaves.

Many of those stories were told to her by her aunt, Irene Northup-Zahos, a retired nurse and great-great granddaughter of Northup, who will also be present for the event.

The head of the ILO Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour, Beate Andrees, will join from the UN agency’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Andrees will discuss what some call “modern-day slavery” and ILO’s work with communities to root it out.

Moderating the discussion will be Holly Young, a journalist for The Guardian, who has reported extensively on issues surrounding forced labour and human trafficking.

Forced labour takes many forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The victims are the most vulnerable – women and girls forced into prostitution, migrants trapped in debt bondage, and sweatshop or farm workers kept there by clearly illegal tactics and paid little or nothing.