June 9th, 2011
03:32 PM ET

Descendant of two famed black leaders fights modern-day slavery

Kenneth B. Morris Jr. , the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington, seeks to educate school children across the U.S. that slavery still exists today.

The founder of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, Morris says his mission is to end slavery and fight for freedom as his ancestors did.


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soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Mari

    It is great to see positive actions happening in this beautiful country of ours. We need more role models like Morris, to inspire and motivate our youth; this country is becoming too toxic with role models such as the Kardashians, Spears and others. Our youth needs parents who will also offer inspiration and be positive role models to their kids, parents who will be their physically and not just financially. Right now kids are spending way too much time in front of the tv, doing unproductive activities; parents and children are absent from each other too much. If we bring kids into this world we must provide for them in every aspect in order for them to grow up to be productive citizens and positive role models for future generations.

    June 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  2. James Walsh

    Inspirational! I'm happy to tell you that a statue of Frederick Douglass will be unveiled in Cork city here in Ireland later this year reflecting his connection to Ireland and support of the Irish people during the time of the Great Famine of 1845-48. President Obama made reference to the work of Douglass and his friendship with Daniel O'Connell on his recent flying visit to our country. O'Connell campaigned against slavery as well as for equal rights for Irish Catholics during English rule. Hopefully President Obama will be able to see the completed statue of Frederick Douglass on his next visit!

    June 10, 2011 at 10:37 am | Reply
  3. Informer

    The real modern day slavery is Alimony. It clearly violates the 13th amendment of the US Constitution. Everyone knows this but no one says anything about it. CNN purposely covers it up because it generates so much money, just like much of the press covered up African American slavery because the slave economy was so lucrative.

    June 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Reply
    • Luke

      No, the feminists cover it up. Equal rights my a$$..

      June 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • orly

      Really? REALLY?

      Alimony (also called maintenance or spousal support) is a legal obligation to provide financial support to one's spouse from the other spouse after marital separation or from the ex-spouse upon divorce. It is established by divorce law or family law in many countries and is based on the premise that both spouses in theory have a legal obligation to support each other during their marriage (or civil union) or upon separation or/and divorce.

      You signed a legal document and you got yourself into it, you werent forced into working for no pay and without the ability to leave and stop. You made your own choice. Deal with it. They fought for people who didn't get the chance to make a choice.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Reply
      • Informer

        Just because a woman agrees to go out on a date with a man does not entitle her to be raped at the end of the night. Getting married is not a legal justification for slavery after a divorce. Alimony is clearly illegal. I don't mind having spousal support during separation because those two people are still spouses. However, when you are divorced you are no longer a spouse and no legal justification for support. And don't call it support. It is slavery. You cannot change the name of somthing to make it legal. The 13th amendment states: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Getting married is not a crime and neither is divorce, thus no justification for slavery or involuntary servitude.

        June 10, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
      • neeneko

        Scrape away the ranting, and there is a nugget of a point in there.

        If you look into how 'family law' works, it is almost a completely different legal system then the rest of the US's system, where a lot of the things we take for granted under the constitution are routinely ignored. Due process as we normally understand it doesn't apply, and many of the laws are implicit/tradition going back to english common law,... so they were not even written in the US. It is a system that is in need of an overhaul if not complete rewrite..

        June 13, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Johan S

      Dude, If the divorce was your fault ie, you cheated on her ... then you basically ruined her life by making her get married to you under false pretenses of you being the type of guy who won't cheat. It's hard for older women to find good guys .. plus she'll probably have trust issues because of creeps like you.

      Most people would rather their car be stolen than get cheated on .. yet a car thief has to go to jail not cheaters.

      So be glad you got off easy by merely having to pay alimony considering the trauma you inflicted on her.

      If you didn't cheat on her, well I guess then the divorce wasn't really your fault and it might be an injustice.

      I'm a guy btw.

      June 12, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Reply
      • Informer

        Dude, Who says anybody cheated on anyone? Alimony is an illegal violation of the 13th amendment. My crime was that I studied hard in school, made good grades and earned more money. She refused to get a job and help out. Americans make excuses to justify slavery today just as they did two centuries ago. Our slavery is better than other countries' slavery. We who suffer under the slavey of alimony are forced to work for another grown up adult. If we do not, we are subjected to physical imprisonment. If we attempt to protect ourselver, they will kill us. Not much different than two centuries ago.

        June 12, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  4. Conrad Shull

    Good. US public schools today teach "slavery" as if it existed only in ancient times and in the U.S. My daughter, when in 12th grade, simply did not believe me when I told her that slavery existed in virtually every society and country until the nineteenth century. She was adamant that it was a completely unique U.S. phenomenon, because thats how it's taught in school..

    June 10, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • Ocean

      In the early U.S. and in ancient times, especially within the Roman Empire, slavery was particularly widespread and foundational to the economy. The entire ante bellum U.S. economy was built on slavery.

      June 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  5. Tad

    Yes, I agree Conrad. Slavery is taught as an American thing!! Slavery has been around since the time of Jesus, ancient Greece and has been depicted in some of the oldest writings in the world. Slavery in America was just a mere blip in comparison. A harsh practice indeed, but America by no means holds a monopoly on slavery. Slavery was widespread in Africa also, some of the American slaves having been sold to slave traders by their own slave trading fellow Africans. Lets tell the story of slavery, but lets tell the whole story.

    June 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Reply
    • Steen

      Slavery is taught as an "American thing" in American schools-as a part of American HISTORY CLASS! Why would they teach about slavery in ancient Rome when the goal is to teach about American History? I doubt that the Department of Education will expand the curriculum to teach other wise. Additionally, since the DOE has dropped African American Studies from just about every school district, the only way African American children can even learn about Booker T Washington or Frederick Douglas is in American History class....I could go on, but I'm going to leave this right here. 🙂

      June 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  6. John

    What?!? The featured savior and educator of the masses isn't an insufferable pretty white woman? Wow, I'm impressed.

    June 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  7. Kat

    Oh, I agree, let's tell the whole story, indeed. Slavery did exist long before the U.S., but the U.S. form of slavery was unique, in that it was operated by so-called Christians, and was visited upon one generation of people, after another. The Brits refer to it as "unique in its form" as that "form" of slavery never existed before. All one had to do, if they wanted to destroy an entire "white" family, was claim that one of his ancestors was a slave! Even if it wasn't true, that white family was doomed and all possessions taken from them. This happened time and time again in the South. This form of slavery existed no where else in the new world, not even in South America or the Carribean.

    June 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • Thai

      I'm not really sure how the religion of the slave owners matters. When the Romans made Christianity their official religion, I'm pretty sure they kept their slaves. And in Ancient Greece and Rome, if your heritage was called into question, you could have lost your property back then too. In fact, the purpose of marriage in those societies was to control citizenship. You weren't a citizen if your father and mother were not married citizens of the state.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
    • ZOOKZ

      White people were imported as slaves too. Whites, Native Americans, and Africans were all part of the slave population. Being white just made it easier to escape, based on the privilege of light complection.

      June 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
      • ZOOKZ

        Oh, and white "slaves" were called Indentured vs Slaves.

        June 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  8. WDinDallas

    Modern day slavery is welfare and entitlements. You have several generations in families that have never had a job. They are undereducated, lazy, druggies that sit around making babies and waiting on thier government check.

    June 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Reply
    • LBW

      If you live where someone else says to live (goverment subsidized rent in a drug infested, crime ridden slum apt) you eat the food someone else provides (food stamps) are not getting an education (abismal drop out rates) and don't marry your childrens other parent ("baby daddy" vs. husband because your childs father is some uneducated, unemployeed ex-con)
      I don't care what color your skin is, sounds like how the slaves had to live to me.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  9. Descendant of Indentured Servant

    It's not that Slavery is unique to the US – it's that it happend in the land of "where all men are created equal" . It was the hypocrisy that make America so unique in this.
    Believe it or not white people in some cases were also brought to America against their will. In my ancesters case, he was given a choice of rotting jail or give up 7 years of his life for passage to the the colonies where he was treated the same as any other properity. His crime was being unemployed on the streets of Edinburgh.
    This is related – if any ever brings up compensation for slavery – remember when the Nazis enslaved the people they conquered – Jews, Christians and none of the above – German companies did eventually pay the enslaved for their time as “Guest Workers".

    June 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  10. Toy

    Modern day slavery is strong & very much alive still until we seek these typical neanderthals out & stop them for good. It will work better if people cared, respected, had dignity for themselves, pride, just say no cause it's just inhumane to be doing/treating eachother like that, and so on. They have even tried to force me into it especially here in Norway that includes my no good husband who claims he loves me but only loves to hurt me and people are not suppose to treat eachother like that but help eachother for the better of us all and our plant!!! So love yourselves and no less fooliness and ugliness cause we all deswerve to be treated good without having to...

    June 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  11. Toy

    Oh yeah, if everybody puts there foot down and says no, trust me these jerks will have no choice but to stop and change their nast ways!!! There are too many other ways to make money these days without being forced into slavery, multiple abuse, etc. Ypou all are better than that and you are loved! Don't forget to love yourself first then others. Take care

    June 10, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  12. Informer

    One of the most painful things is being a victim of slavery in the form or Alimony and people try and justify it. Oddly enough if you ask any lawyer to explain how alimony does not violate the 13th amendment they will not answer it. That is because they make billions of dollar off of the slave trade just as the South did two centuries ago. Everyone hides from this debate. I personally believe CNN will not let people post on the subject.

    June 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Reply
    • Nuba Warrior

      Informer, I take it alimony cheques getting to you...sorry, but these laws were put in place to protect women's rights. After marriage, women leave everything to work as a mother and housewife. After years of this, she will have no other skills. What do you expect a woman to do after she is divorced.

      June 12, 2011 at 7:29 am | Reply
      • Informer

        There is no excuse to violate human rights and Alimony is a clear violation of human rights and does violate the 13th amendment of the US constitution. No human should own another human as a slave. The origins of alimony in the United States came at a time when a woman who married a man not only gave away the rights to her last name, but also gave the rights to her property to the man she married. If she married a man regardless of whether or not he had land of his own then her property rights were forfeited to her husband by the simple act of marriage. For this reason Alimony was given to a woman after a divorce because she was left with no land. The United States government saw that this practice was unfair and enacted the Married Women’s Property Acts in (1848). But, Alimony has still remained even though It was made illegal after the passage of the 13th amendment of the US constitution. You read the 13th amendment and explain how Alimony is legal. Exactly. This is why no lawyers can explain it–because there is no explanation.

        June 12, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  13. Toiletman

    I studied history at university but the concept of slavery was found in nearly all pre-modern societies and depending on how narrowly you define slavery, the middle age can also be still called an age of slavery in Europe. There were of course different laws about slavery in the world with different rights like in Rome or golden age arabia where slaves could even be very influencial rich persons owning other slaves aswell while other slaves like in the modern sahel zone or in the pre-civil war USA had close to no rights. I don't think we can call anything in the USA slavery today but in some sahel zone countries and the United Arab Emirates, it still exists as a widespread custom despite being legally outlawed.

    June 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  14. Omotayo Fakinlede

    Slavery existed before it became the way of race relations in the US. Slavery, be definition, is the rich and powerful lording it over the weak. Everything is allowed. The Africans were weak and the white europeans that fought "unjust taxes" of European potentates saw no reason to extend those great fundamental "truths" to the weak simply because it made economic sense to enslave the blacks. Call it selfishness, or whatever, you can never rule that out of any other form of slavery.
    American slavery is unique because in addition to this basic primitive urge to gain economic advantage, it was done by people who actually thought they were living in the "Land of the Free, and the Home of the brave"!. The economic development and infrastructure that slave labor created eventually turned America to a global power. Yet its slavery practices are quite unique. As an example on the modern-day effects of slavery, America still regards a person who is 90% white a black person because of the logic of slavery that allowed a slave owner to make babies out of a slave woman and continue to enslave mother and child! His own child, his own blood! Such illogicallities are not explainable in any other ways unless the history of American slavery is properly taught.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  15. dontcomplain69

    slavery is good, otherwise we would all be paying $500 for a t-shirt or $30 for a head of lettuce

    June 13, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  16. allen fudd

    Fact: Arabs taught the europeans the slave trade.
    If these guys were serious about ending slavery they would go to the source. Teaching American children is not helping the cause. Get out there where slavery exists if you're serious.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:18 am | Reply
    • Omotayo Fakinlede

      True. But the student perfected the art and became even better than the teacher. They introduced creative ways to extend it even to children fathered by the slave owners through enslaved women! Not even the Arabs went that far! For the sheer power and influence of America and its contributions to innovations in slavery, this is the correct place to start!

      June 14, 2011 at 9:37 am | Reply
  17. allen fudd

    I travel the world and from what I experience America is by far the most informed country regarding the horrors of slavery. Speaking to children in the midwest can hardly qualify as, "fighting."
    In terms of oppression, I suggest religious intolerance is a far more critical issue that need attention-and I don't mean in America. Religious intolerance in the Islamic world is a growing problem that needs serious attention.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:30 am | Reply
  18. allen fudd

    Both, contemporary slavery and religious intolerance are heinous crimes. not more more than another.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:52 am | Reply
  19. cb

    Slavery is wrong whether it is here or in another country. I agree with allen fudd and tolietman on their facts. Slavery exists mainly in the underdeveloped countries and some in this country are considered sex slaves. Africans aren't the only people who were slaves but Jews,Native Americans, and other people were also slaves.Whereever and whoever it is happening to should be stopped.

    June 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  20. karen anderson

    Very interesting so many types of slavery and sad but true STILL exist this very day !

    June 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Reply
  21. Julian Smart

    It was a pleasure seeing how more people are attempting to fight this common threat of modern day slavery. My girlfriend is a part of an business group called Fair Trade that gives awareness to the retail consumer products sold in the U.S. that contribute to this ongoing issue. I can't wait to be a part of this grassroots movement, I plan on spreading the word and educating my fellow peers. Very informative video...

    July 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Reply
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