Giraffe Heroes Database

Jacobs, Charles

Jacobs, Charles

The women and children are divided up, then sold one by one to the highest bidders. They’ll work on the buyers’ farms, with no pay, no days of rest, not much chance of ever being free again.

1855 Alabama? No—it’s 2000 Sudan. Indeed, though it takes many forms –debt bondage, forced labor, pure chattel slavery, human bondage is thriving around the world.

Charles Jacobs has committed his life to stopping modern-day slavery. Jacobs quit his job as a successful management consultant to co-found, then lead, the American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG), the only organization in the United States dedicated solely to the eradication of modern-day slavery around the world. Through AASG, Jacobs publicizes the plight of Africans and others who have been enslaved and helps bring freedom to thousands of them.

It has been a surprisingly lonely struggle. People who might be expected to help have not rallied to the cause, despite Jacobs’ persistent efforts; Louis Farrakhan has even attacked Jacobs as a CIA agent and insisted that he’s lying about slavery in Africa. But after years of work, Jacobs has now got wide support that includes black Congressmen and clergy, Amnesty International, Quakers, feminists, labor groups, the Christian right, and the Salvation Army.

Volunteering his time, Jacobs publishes articles in the national press, testifies before Congress; leads abolitionist conferences; and has organized a multi-cultural, multinational coalition of people he calls “the new abolitionists.” They include students in over 100 schools who use Jacobs’ website to learn about today’s slavery. Thanks to Jacobs and his allies, slavery is now an issue on the international agenda. UNICEF, for example, has acknowledged and condemned the slavery in Sudan and has taken part in a buyback program of slaves in India.

Jacobs is making an all-out effort to enlist the participation of African-American churches. “That’s going to change everything,” says Jacobs. “My vision from the beginning was that blacks would naturally lead this.”

When challenged about buying people out of slavery, Charles Jacobs says it isn’t the long-term answer but, “It is the solution for individuals and it is the most humanitarian thing we can do. You cannot look in the eyes of these women and children and for $85 not buy them their freedom.”

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Age when commended: adult (20-64)
Year commended: 2000
Occupation: Business person
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