Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2011-03-25


The Samford University sociology department will host a traveling Florida Modern-day Slavery Museum Wednesday, March 30.

The cargo truck on exhibit is outfitted as a replica of the vehicle used in a slavery operation that resulted in the high-profile 2008 U.S. v. Navarrete federal court case. In the case involving slavery of farm workers by corporate agriculture farmers, members of the Navarrete family were sentenced for enslaving and brutalizing nine migrant workers. One charge dealt with beatings and nighttime imprisonment in a truck.

The museum, presented by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), is accompanied by displays on the history and evolution of slavery in Florida.  CIW, a community based-organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants who work in low-wage jobs throughout Florida, has received national awards for its human rights and anti-slavery efforts. It is a partner with Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida, another initiative for farmworker justice. Immokalee, located in southwest Florida, is the state’s largest farmworker community.

The traveling exhibits were developed in consultation with workers who have escaped from forced labor operations as well as academic authorities on slavery and labor history in Florida. The central focus is the phenomenon of modern-day slavery—its roots, the reasons it persists, and its solution, according to Samford sociology chair Dr. Hugh Floyd.

“Social justice and compassion are critical and essential for development of a local and global community,” says Floyd. “Acts of disrespect and oppressive control of others are not acceptable. Awareness and action are necessary for social justice and compassion to prevail.”

The truck and displays will be located between Propst Hall and Reid Chapel from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to Samford, the museum’s current tour includes stops at University of Georgia and Emory, Mercer and Vanderbilt universities.