We recently reported on the first ever permanent museum exhibit on modern slavery. The exhibition is at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. And Free the Slaves is proud to say we are part of this groundbreaking show. Along with a handful of other leading anti-slavery organizations, FTS shared our decade’s worth of research and content with the museum. And FTS President Kevin Bales’ most recent book The Slave Next Door—co-written by historian Ron Soodalter—is on sale at the Freedom Center gift shop!
Last week the New York Times wrote a review of the exhibition. It’s a great write up:
CINCINNATI — Peer through a circular hole into one of the displays in the permanent exhibition “Invisible: Slavery Today,” opening on Saturday at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center here, and you see a tawdry room the size of a closet. On the floor a stained mattress is scrawled with the words: “At sixteen, her new ‘life’ had begun.” The irony stings. Around the portal’s opening, a seemingly handwritten account tells of Margo’s abusive father, the promises of escape offered by Lenny and her delivery into sexual slavery.
A few steps away is another sparely told tale: Karin, a young mother of two in Sri Lanka, is lured by the promise of a waitress job in Singapore. Lift the heavy drapery covering an opening and you gasp at the display’s brute theatricality, offering a glimpse of her fate. A light suddenly comes on, casting shadows on a hanging sheet: hands reach out to grasp a woman’s silhouette.
There are no explicit images here, only the suggestion of something horrifyingly entrapping. It is a bit like the battered metallic case with a hole cut in its top, in another display. No sex, but force: Mariano is smuggled into the United States to support his Guatemalan family. Cesar promises him room and board but instead turns him into a prisoner, forcing him to pay back his increasing debts by picking tomatoes; he finally escapes by cutting through a truck’s roof.