Cook County Commissioner Monica Gordon Believes Illinois Can Play a Role in Improving Lives in Slavery’s Last Stronghold

Cook County Commissioner Monica Gordon Believes Illinois Can Play a Role in Improving Lives in Slavery's Last Stronghold
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Cook County Commissioner Monica Gordon Believes Illinois Can Play a Role in Improving Lives in Slavery’s Last Stronghold  (Cook County, IL) — Upon returning from a recent trip to Nouakchott, the capital city of Mauritania, Cook County Commissioner Monica Gordon is determined to forge a student exchange program between the colleges in her district and slavery’s last stronghold. Gordon visited the West African nation with the Abolition Institute as part of a 17-person delegation to fight against modern day slavery.

Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1981. It would take more than a generation for the government to outlaw the act of owning another person in 2007. To date, only one conviction against a slave owner has been prosecuted successfully.

Currently, it is estimated 10% to 20% of Mauritania’s 3.4 million people are enslaved. While there, the diverse delegation attended meetings with freed slaves, called Haratines, the Mauritanian Human Rights Commissariat, other nonprofit organizations, human rights attorneys and activists, public health experts, toured Haratine villages and visited the U.S. Embassy.

Since slavery is so much a part of the culture, experts say education is the only way former slaves can make a life for themselves or risk being re-enslaved.

“I’m going to work with state Rep. La Shawn Ford to establish a student exchange program with Illinois universities to help educate and empower Haratine students to become dynamic leaders in multiple fields and build connections needed for when they return to Mauritania,” said Commissioner Gordon.

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According to Gordon, Ford will request a meeting with the Illinois Board of Higher Education while she will meet with the administrations of Chicago State University, Governors State University and Prairie State University, which are in the 5th District she represents.

The Uptown-based Abolition Institute was founded by 46th Ward Committeeman Sean Tenner who successfully advocated for $4.5 million in federal funding to fight modern day slavery in the Saharan nation. This was his fourth trip to Mauritania and the delegation plans to return next year.

The delegation also included Abolition Institute co-founder Bakary Tandia, Forest Park Mayor Rory Hoskins, state Rep. Sonya Harper, Maywood Mayor Nathaniel Booker, attorney Megan Osadzinsky, Dr. Mohammed Zaid Siddiqui, Art of Culture Executive Director Heather Smith, Abolitionist Sarah Mathewson, Prof. Elizabeth Ward, businessowner Jalen Winston, 5th District Director Micaela Smith and law students Cyrus Commissariat, Madeeha Syed and Aleks Kania.

Cook County Commissioner Monica Gordon Believes Illinois Can Play a Role in Improving Lives in Slavery’s Last Stronghold

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