Francis Bok, Escape from Slavery.

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NOTE: Audio for segment one is included. You may order audio 2-4 on CD by going to Contact US and following the instructions

10/22/2003

Well, good afternoon everybody. You know, there are times when the truth seems like fiction. There are times when you read news reports about contemporary cruelties or modern ethnic cleansing, and you sit in your suburban home or at a Starbuck’s sipping your hot, creamy latte and you think, no, that isn’t really happening. Well, our next guest tells a true story. It’s a story of Sudan. It’s a story of modern-day slavery, and as I said, it is a true story. It is from a book titled, Escape from Slavery, which is published by St. Martin’s. And our guest is Francis Bok, who is a student in the United States now. He’s an associate at the American Anti-Slavery Group, and this is his story.

Q. Francis, thank you for joining us today.
A. You are welcome. It’s great to be on the show.

Q. The story, of course, tells the tragic story of your-your own slavery. But-but interestingly enough, it starts with a little bit of an understanding of what life was like before at the age of seven you were taken into slavery, and I’d kind of like to start there. When you think back about what life was like when it was a more joyful experience with your family at the age of seven, what was your life like?
A. Well Dick, to be honest, I would say that Sudan, for a lot of people who do not know what Sudan is and what the difference is between north and south ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ because Sudan is the largest country in geography in Africa. It’s split apart to south and north, and I’m from southern Sudan.

Q. Yeah.
A. Where a lot of people who live in the south were farmers.

Q. Yeah.
A. And they are rich with the animals. There is a lot of animals, a lot of cows and horses, and a lot of goats and sheeps. And my father in the village that I lived in was considered a rich man because a lot of people in my village call him a ajak man in my native language. In English would mean a rich man.

Q. Yes.
A. And I could tell that because we have a lot of people who sometimes come back from us. And I was having a happy life with my family even though we were a big family, my father has another wife with my two step-brothers and two step-sisters, and they have their own house.

Q. Yeah.
A. And we have two boys, myself and my oldest brother, and my two little sisters. We have happy life until one day when this tragedy happened, you know, all this crazy thing that I didn’t even know that I would see all kinds of things that I saw. That evening when my mother, come to me while I was playing with friends and she said to me that I want to send you to the local market to sell eggs and beans for her.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I stood up quickly and I told my friends, excuse me, I got to do some favor for my mother because she actually never send me somewhere to do something for her.

Q. Yeah, so this was special.
A. So it was favor to me to do something for her which I didn’t know that. And she didn’t know also that my life was going to change in like two or three hours, that I’m going to be heading to the local market.

Q. Now, before that your father had¢â‚¬¦ You had been privileged to go out with your father when he would go out in the fields.
A. Yes.

Q. And he-he-he gave you a nickname that was a nickname that meant “12 men.”
A. Absolutely. Actually because I had taught a little bit about my father, in case of those who haven’t yet read my book, my father is a bullish man that, you know, I really can’t describe how good he is enough at that time. The man that who shows me to be number one kid, even though he has all these kids and some of the kids who know more than I do, and because I share all my ideas with him. And I used to come to him and say, Daddy I want to be like you some day. I want to be called ajak, a rich man like you. And also I want to help our community and those you help sometime. And I want even to help my country. And he said to me that I know you will because you like to work, and I always like to participate when he’s going somewhere even though I know I’m not going to do what he’s going to do exactly ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. And that’s why he liked me a lot. And so I would have a happy life, you know, I know that I have a wonderful family.

Q. And it’s an important story because your father told you you would do something important in your life ¢€œ
A. Yes.

Q. ¢€œ he gave you a name that indicated that you were going to be a man that would do the work of many men.
A. Yes.

Q. He didn’t know yet that you were going to be 6’6″ tall.
A. Absolutely. I think he kind of recognized, he kind of knew that because we have tall people in our family. He’s tall, his father was tall, and everybody in our family member was very tall.

Q. Now you¢â‚¬¦ One thing that comes out in the book at a number of different points is you ask God for help. And you explain that in southern Sudan many families are Christian. And the kind of Christian they are depends on which missionaries came to their region. And your family was Roman Catholic.
A. Absolutely. And I even still Catholic even today.

Q. Now, you say you didn’t attend regularly, but was the Catholicism you were raised in at that point, was it important to your family at the time?
A. It is very important because God is always important enough to remember the God when you’re doing something or when you failed something ask God. And I think God is the one who believe my people, be understand with my people’s sin, because this thing has been going on for many, many years, in my country the civil war been going on for 20 years old ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ which cost the lives of two million people. That’s more than people have been killed in all this country that America want to help them. And that’s why I say sometimes, Why do you all abandon us? Why did America abandon us? Because we have more people been killed. Two million people, more than people been killed Kosova or Rwanda and Somalia, and a lot of other countries that I can’t remember, combined ¢€œ

Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. ¢€œ and nobody helping.

Q. Well, it’s interesting because you mentioned the Roman Catholic. And there have been people in the United States that have held up the issue of Sudan and many of them have been ¢€œ not all of them ¢€œ but many of them have been-have been religious people. A lot of people from the Christian tradition have kept the Sudanese issue alive and also Abe Rosenthal, a Jewish journalist with the New York Times used to write about Sudan quite a bit. So but it is¢â‚¬¦ It’s the reason I set up the introduction the way I did because it’s almost as if it’s not in the front pages, it’s not happening for Americans.
A. Absolutely.

Q. And unfortunately, it is happening. And it’s still happening today. Now, let’s go back now. You’re a seven year old boy. You’re the favorite of your father. Your mother has asked you to do a very special task. It’s 1986 and now your life is going to change forever. What happened that day?
A. We go to the market and I sit underneath the big tree where a lot of people come from all different village. And they were selling and buying. And while I was sitting there I heard adult talking saying that we saw smoke. And they pointed toward the village that we came from. And I also heard some other adult saying that we heard gun shooting. And I wasn’t really aware what happened right away after we left the village until when I seen a lot of people start leaving the markets and then I also looked behind me and I seen all this horsemen, you know, people who dressing differently.

Q. Yes.
A. And with machine gun and this big animal coming toward us. And they’re surrounding all the market and they start shooting.

Q. Yes.
A And I stood up quickly and I said, What going on here? You know, I couldn’t really even talk to the kid who come with me because my mother sent me to the market with a little older kids from my neighbors. And this kid just start running. And I tried to run, too. When I seen a lot of people, you know, already on the floor, a lot of men been shot¢â‚¬¦

We’re going to have to pick up there when we come back. We’re in the day now where Francis Bok, as a seven year old, gets caught in the crossfire with this armed band that comes into the marketplace. This is a story that is a tragedy, but there also is triumph in this story, and there is faith in the story. As Francis has said, “God has stood with the people of Sudan.” The book is Escape from Slavery, it’s published by St. Martin’s. We’re visiting with Francis Bok. He is also a member of the American Anti-Slavery Group in Boston. We’ll talk more about that coming up right after this. Stay there.

(Break)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with Francis Bok. This is a most remarkable story and a modern-day escape from slavery. Francis Bok is the author and we’re visiting with Francis this afternoon. But we’ve now followed him as a seven year old into the market. They see smoke rising from the village that they have left. He’s been sent to the market by his mother with an older boy. When the older boy sees these gunmen entering the village, he takes off running. Francis tries to take off running.

Q. What happens next, Francis?
A. So I stood up and I tried to run, and one of the horsemen come toward me and he grabbed my hand and he was speaking a strange language I couldn’t understand at that time because I didn’t speak Arabic at that time. And I was very confused and very, very afraid. You know, I thought maybe he was going to kill me. And I was very afraid also seeing this big animal standing in front of me, big horse.

Q. Yeah.
A. And just destroying everything in the market. And after they finished and even they steal some of the stuff that they need from us in the marketplace. They marched all over to the north. And I witness a 12 years old girl been shot on the way because she was screaming, she couldn’t stop crying on the way ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and one of the militiamen told her to stop crying and she couldn’t stop it. Then the guy just took her out of the group and he shot her in the head.

Q. Yeah.
A. And that hurt me a lot actually when I seen a little girl get shot. I said, This danger now is not only for a man or adults, this also can happen to any one of us here kids. And I’ve seen a lot of kid who are very quiet and also learn to be quiet in that moment. And on the way up to the north we were divided up to militiamen and¢â‚¬¦

Q. Now, what happened¢â‚¬¦ They took the children, what happened to the women and the adult men that were in the village?
A. The womens?

Q. Yeah.
A. Well, the women, after we split up, after we divided up to between each of them, they be want live with the master and I didn’t know exactly what you know, except when I went to this guy’s farm and I began seeing a lot of girls who been brought from southern Sudan and women working and I never had chance to ask them what did really force them to do. But I heard the story, you know, a lot of young women were being forced for the sex.

Q. Yeah.
A. Where they do for their masters to work into domestic jobs.

Q. Yeah.
A. And the boy was forced to attend cattles. And that’s my job that I been done for the years that I’ve been with this guy. And let me just tell you this story, what happened when I first arrived on his farm. Giemma took me to his home, which is my master, he actually called the whole family to meet me. And his three children had sticks. And they all camped me. And they started beating me. And they were chanting to say that abeed, abeed. And abeed in mean in Arabic is black slave, that was my welcome.

Q. Yeah.
A. And the thing that really make me surprised and make me angry is when I saying this to a kid beating on me and their mother and father was standing there watching them. And they didn’t help me. And I said to myself, Why these people watching their kid beating on me and they not helping me?

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, what kind of people they are? You know, what kind of people in the world who don’t even think about seven years old boy or a little boy like they have little kids, you know? And I stopped crying. I did a little cry because I was very upset and after kids got tired Giemma told me to follow him to show me where I’m going to be sleeping. There’s a little shelter that close to the animals, a lot of horse and a lot camels and a lot of cows. And I had to stay there, you know, and he has to send his children to come whenever they want to to amuse themselves by saying abeed or, you know, beating me. And I remember his wife, too, she come and stood in front of me and said that if my husband would allow me I would shoot you.

Q. Yeah. She regularly told you that she wanted to kill you.
A. Absolutely. And I was very, very scared by her. I really watched myself when her husband is not home.

Q. Yeah.
A. And also I noted that when her husband is not at home, I’m not going to eat that day. She doesn’t bring me food, you know.

Q. You went to Giemma one time and you asked him, Why does no one love me?
A. Actually this question, I raised this question. But this is the question that I learned in a few days when I’d been there. And I said I had to really pay attention and listen to them when they speaking in Arabic because they never even try to teach me how I can read in Arabic or to speak Arabic perfectly so I can communicate with them very well. It doesn’t matter to them, they just talk to me like they’re talking to a deaf person.

Q. Yeah.
A. So I learn a little bit. And one day when my master come to me to bring me food and before he returned I said to him that I want to know why you call me abeed, black slave.

Q. Yeah.
A. And why you force me to live with the animals.

Q. Yeah.
A. And why nobody love me. And he didn’t say anything.

Q. Now, you said all that in Arabic?
A. Yeah, in Arabic, I ask him yes, because their¢â‚¬¦

Q. And he didn’t say anything.
A. He didn’t say anything. He just grabbed his stick and he beat me instead. That was his answer that day. Until two days later he come to me and he said, You know why we call you abeed, black slave? And why we force you to sleep with the animals? Because you are an animal. That’s what he told me.

Q. Wow. Now, you’re a little kid. You’ve got nobody to talk to about this.
A. Yes.

Q. Except God.
\ A. Absolutely.

Q. And how are you-how are you handling this when they’re treating you like this and saying these kinds of things about you? What is there within you that is giving you the strength to stand up to this?
A. I think the strength that I really didn’t forget all the thing that happen to me and being able to ask this important question to this person is that I have hope that I will go back to see my wonderful family again, and especially my father.

Q. Yeah.
A. And also I have hope in the future that I used to share with my father, I want to be somebody important some day.

Q. Yeah.
A. So I don’t want to give up, you know, because a lot of people sometime believe that when you give up on something that mean, you know, you free yourself. But you lose. Giving up is losing.

Q. This was a Muslim family. Was their Islam important to them?
A. Absolutely, very, very important. And as a matter of fact, I think they call it in Arabic [hiram], that’s an Arab word and [hiram] means shame, to be some time with somebody not Muslim and I know when I first come there my master tried to convert me.

Q. Yeah.
A. He always talk to me about saying that you need to pray with us when we pray. I don’t even know what to say because you’ve got to say something, you know, when you’re praying. And they force me to do that and I accepted because he scared me by saying to me if I can’t, you know, he would hurt me.

Q. Now, he gave you another name in Arabic, didn’t he?
A. Yeah, in Aramic Abdul Rahman.

Q. Abdul Rahman?
A. Yes. Basically, you know, I accept to do that but not in my heart, because in my heart I was still Christian.

Q. Yeah.
A. Because I’m Christian and that’s why I have name Francis and I know this is eastern religion to me. I don’t know. So basically it’s very important to them that for everyone to be Muslim and this is one of the big conflict in my country now in Sudan as I mention because the government in Khartoum has a regime like Taliban that we had in Afghanistan. They tried to impose Islamic law to everyone. So in my country they want to convert Islamic. They want to make everyone to be Muslim. And we the people in the south refused to be Islamic because we believe in our way of life and we don’t want change our custom and the way we dress and the way we eat and the way we pray. So and then this is one of the big conflict that we had in my country.

We’re going to pick up there when we come back. Francis Bok is our guest. The book is Escape from Slavery, published by St. Martin’s. It is Francis Bok’s personal story. He’s also an associate at the American Anti-Slavery Group. We’ll tell you about that in just a moment. Of course, his experience has shaped his own mission and calling in life. We’ll learn more about that as well, and hear some more of his story, just a tragic story, but as I said, with some triumph in it as well. We’ll be back with more of Francis Bok, Escape from Slavery, right after this.

(Break)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. You know, you’ve heard me talk about and you’ve heard many guests on the show over the years talking about the situation in Sudan. You’ve heard about heroic efforts that have been made form time to time to go in and buy back Sudanese slaves. You’ve heard about the conflict between north and south. You’ve heard about economic factors, religious factors, even racial factors, ethnic factors. Francis Bok is telling you his own story.

Q. And Francis, before we go ahead ¢€œ and I realize you’re still a child, a young man at the time of the story as we’re describing it now ¢€œ but to help people put this in context, when you just talked about the Muslim desire to convert, you also talked about the Arab desire to Arabize. And there’s also the economic driver of cheap labor because you basically you, along with a lot of other south Sudanese, were providing labor for these Muslims.
A. Uh-huh.

Q. How can we understand what the mix of motivation is for what the north is doing to the south? I mean, some people say¢â‚¬¦ Well, first of all as you know, some people deny that it’s even happening.
A. Right.

Q. But secondly, for people that agree that it’s happening, they disagree about why. Some of them will say, well, it’s racially driven. Some of them will say it’s economically driven. Others will say it is driven by religion. How do you react to that?
A. In my own perspective I believe that one of the main conflicts in my country is, number one, because that’s why they come in, want to make everyone Muslims in the country and number two, is economic because we have oil that is underneath us in southern Sudan. And the man who mentioned this was the guy who have done what he did to American civilian two years ago when Osama bin Laden was in my country for six years.

Q. Yeah.
A. To help Sudanese with the pipeline to steal the oil from us. And that’s the number two conflict in my country is economic. And number three is racism because people look different color in my country.

Q. Yeah.
A. In the south they are very dark skins. And in the north they are lighter skin which they consider themselves white. And we call them, of course, they look different than us. And this is another thing that’s going on in my country. And besides that I don’t know really because, as you know, I wish I can be attended to describe all the politics and stuff.

Q. From the age of seven til 17 years of age you were with this family.
A. Yes.

Q. You worked hard everyday. You were a slave essentially.
A. Absolutely.

Q. You did attempt to escape twice and very severe punishment when you did try to escape.
A. Yeah. Actually when I decided to escape when I was 14, you know, seven years working with them, and this after my question when he said to me that after I ask him why he call me abeed, black slave, and why he force me to sleep with the animals and why nobody love me, and he says to me because I am an animal.

Q. Yeah.
A. That’s when I decided to leave. And that time actually he switched my job that I usually used to do. I used to take care of the goats. And then when he seen me doing a great job he switched my job to take care of the cattles.

Q. Uh-huh.

A. And that’s the job that I’d been doing now for all the years that I’ve been with him. So when I first decided to escape when I was 14, he actually saw me and he recaptured me back. And he brought me back and beat me. And he says to me, if you try it again, I’m going to kill you.

Q. Yeah.
A. But in my heart I didn’t give up. I said I’d rather die than be a slave. Because I hate the way he treat me.

Q. Yeah.
A. And also the way I saw other slave was treated badly. So I stay a few days, two days and then I escape again the second time. And when he caught me the second time it was very threat, you know, to me. He actually tied me up and he beat me very hard. Then he said tonight is going to be your last day on the earth, you know. It was a very, very scary moment to me.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I’m going to give up that time, you know. He was standing up and I was sitting underneath him. I wasn’t looking at his face, I just closed my eyes and I said, God, please don’t let him kill me. I love my parents and I have hope in the future.

Q. Yeah.
A. So he change his mind a few hours later. And he says to me that if next time if you try to escape again I’m not going to talk to you. I’m just going to shoot you.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I promise him and I swear that I’m not going to do it again and that’s when I realized to wait a couple more years. And I waited three more years until when I was 17 years old that I finally decided it’s time to get away from this man, it’s time to do whatever it takes to get away, you know, because¢â‚¬¦

Q. And at 17 you did escape. And you say, due to some acts of kindness, you did make your way to Khartoum ¢€œ
A. Absolutely.

Q. ¢€œ where unfortunately, now, you end up in another kind of imprisonment situation.
A. Yes. And this is all the details that I encourage the listener, you know, to read my book.

Q. Yes.
A. Because there’s a lot of information, there’s a lot of chapters and a lot pages that describe all these things. So I’m not going to include a lot of details but I’m just going to give them the overview what I’ve been through and that’s why it’s important to buy this book Escape from Slavery.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so I managed to escape, the final one, I waited for three more years until when I was 17 I finally said, Now I’m grow up boy, I’m not a little boy anymore. I can defend myself, and say, If I would escape, but if somebody caught me I would resist with that person if they shot me. Now, I think that would be great rather than I could be with them to be called an animal and be treated the way they have been treating me, when I came from southern Sudan. So basically I was very lucky, you know. I was very lucky to escape and somebody helped me who was an Arab, he was an Arab, too, and he’s a Muslims.

Q. Yeah.
A. And this is another thing, too, I really wanted to highlight it to a lot of people who sometime take this information negatively that think that you again is Islamic or you all again is Arabs. And I always say in my speech, because I talk to a lot of kids in the schools, I would say this is not a matter of left and right. This is a matter or right and wrong.

Q. Yes.
A. So if you do wrong thing, you will be judged a wrong person.

Q. Yes.
A. You will be judged bad person.

Q. Yeah.
A. So in every community we have bad people. So this is not, when I say Arab, it doesn’t mean that I’m talking all Arabs. Or all Muslims. So because the guy who helped me, he’s an Arab and he’s a Muslim and he care.

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, he know that, you know, it’s unfair that for the government to treat these people the way they do.

Q. As you said, the whole story is told in Escape from Slavery, and folks, you can get through the U.N. Refugee camp where everyone has a story, as Francis says. The release to Cairo where he lives in a church and is again connected to and helped by people who are Christian. His really wonderful dramatic story of his interview and then the word “you’ve been accepted.” I’m not going to tell you what that means. You can read that in the story, Escape from Slavery, but it’s a wonderful chapter. And another moment of great reward and future and hope for somebody that has experienced great hardship. And then the INS gets involved and again you can read all the details in the story. But Francis is now sent to the United States and he is sent to Fargo, North Dakota.
A. Very funny, I know.

Q. Where he is taken in by a group of Lutherans. That must have been a really radical transition to go from Cairo to Fargo, North Dakota.
A. Yes. It was very funny. The good thing is because that’s how I came here in ’99. I didn’t speak the language. I couldn’t speak English. And I didn’t even know anything about America because I haven’t studied, you know, I didn’t study geography so I could know all the United States and different states. And I came from where it’s always 120 degrees, not only in Egypt but in my country, and a lot of other countries in Africa they’re very hot.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I went to Fargo, North Dakota, which is very, very cold, and it was shock to me.

Okay. We’re going to pick up there when we come back, folks, with some concluding comments from Francis Bok. It’s a wonderful, inspirational story and an encouraging story, as well, but there’s a lot of work left to be done. The book is Escape from Slavery, published by St. Martin’s.

(Break)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with Francis Bok, a remarkable story of an escape from slavery. A tragic story, too. Think about it, a seven year old child taken from his mother and father, his brother, his sisters, taken from everything that he knows and loves, taken from the games that he plays in the village, taken from his confidence that he has derived and from his faith, placed for ten years in slavery in modern-day history. This isn’t an ancient story, this is a story that is contemporary. This is something that has happened now. And through the terrible experience of ten years in captivity, he nevertheless managed to escape and makes his way to Khartoum, makes his way from there to Cairo, and ultimately he now is in ¢€œ has gone from 120-degree temperatures with some humidity to Fargo, North Dakota, which is insufferably cold in the winter. But it’s still a place where you learn English, you meet some people that care about you, you get your feet on the ground, and then you get a phone call from Boston.

Q. Now, tell me about this American Anti-Slavery Group in Boston that contacted you. Who are these people and what do they do?
A. Well, I will start with how they discovered me. I was in Fargo for five months, I believe, from August until January 1st, 2000. I decided to move because I didn’t like the weather, I didn’t like the people there because I didn’t know, you know, nobody. So I decided to move to inside world where all the American Anti-Slavery Group discovered me. And actually the person who helped me out in Egypt when I was in Africa actually. And he lives in Massachusetts here. And he met this man, his name is Dr. Charles Jacobs.

Q. Yes.
A. He is the president of American Anti-Slavery Groups. And he actually said to me that we wanted to come and work with us. And I said to him, you know what, I’m not in slavery anymore. I’m fine now. I have a wonderful job, working two jobs actually. And actually I looked behind, you know, what I really miss. And I want to save money and go to school some day. So when the guy didn’t give up, he keep calling me until I decided to move to Boston some time in August, some time in May, 2000.

Q. Man.
A. But when I first come and I visit the offices and I seen, you know, what they do, and he explained to me how he get involved and how he started the American Anti-Slavery Group here in Boston, he said he read the article in 1993.

Q. Yes.
A. And he said he read article in 1993 that in New York Times that you can buy slave back in Sudan.

Q. Yes.
A. For $35 US.

Q. Yes.
A. And he decided to write an article and do on TV and be able to meet with the State representative and testify to Foreign Relation Committee.

Q. Yes.
A. And I got convinced by him, I thank him a lot and I said, You know what? Now I don’t speak English very well, and also have a lot of promise to myself that I want to do. So he said that we will help you when you move to Boston to go to school, and also we want you to speak, to tell your own experience.

Q. Yeah, absolutely.
A. And I agreed with them. And I start working with them.

Q. Wasn’t it one of your first assignments to speak to a southern Baptist church in Roxbury?
A. Yes, absolutely, that’s it. And I wasn’t aware even¢â‚¬¦ And I was very, very surprised, you know, when I went there all these people, African-American waiting, you know, to see me. And it was black to me that day actually because they pray for me, they pray for my people, they all love me, they all encourage me ¢€œ

Q. Yes.
A. ¢€œ and a lot of them even become friend to me today.

Q. Well, this part of the story is wonderful because, I mean, you’ve gone from imprisonment in Sudan to the White House, to being able to represent your country’s issues and problems in Washington D.C., to speak to school groups to speak to church groups, and basically to let them know that there are, what, 27-million people in slavery today?
A. Absolutely. That’s it, 27- to 28-million people are slaves worldwide today.

Q. And what are you telling people that they ought to do about that?
A. Well, I tell them because most people in this country believe that slavery ended over 200 years ago in 1865.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I tell them, you know, and we American Anti-Slavery Group told them, if you think slavery ended, think again. Slavery never ends. It’s still alive today.

Q. Yeah.
A. And it’s taking place¢â‚¬¦ It could be your neighbor. Even where we do an interview, you know.

Q. Yeah.
A. So basically we try to empower these people, to educate them. And my goal is to raise the public awareness to remind everyone that slavery is still alive ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and also tell them I’m an example of this people because I was there a couple years ago and thank God I’m here today to do what I can to speak on behalf of my people, substituting also on behalf of 27-million people. We’re trying to remind everyone to do something about this.

Q. You just said, “Thank God I’m here today.” And one of the things that you see throughout your book is that you never really lost your faith in God. And some people would find that remarkable. They would say, you know, Don’t you feel that God has betrayed you? That he abandoned you? He wasn’t with you.
A. Huh-uh.

Q. How is it that you have retained that faith and commitment to God, Francis?
A. Well, I would say, yes, what you just said exactly. A lot of people say that some time when bad thing happen to you and God didn’t help you you say, you know, God abandoned me. But in my case, in my people’s case, too, and a lot of others, I

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