Free the Slaves: One Cup of Coffee At a Time

The smell of Starbucks coffee and the sound of acoustic guitars always signify one thing: a Coffeehouse. Last Friday in Kemper Auditorium, Center for Global Justice and Andover Modern Abolitionist Society (AMAS) hosted a talent show, drawing more than 250 students, that featured various musical, poetic and comedic acts—all accompanied by pizza, cupcakes, brownies, cookies and free Starbucks Fair Trade coffee. “One: We wanted to raise awareness,” said Tiffany Li ’09, a board member of Center for Global Justice, “because a lot of people don’t realize how much good fair trade coffee does or that slavery is still going on. Two: we wanted to raise money.” The money raised went to Free the Slaves, a non-profit organization dedicated to putting an end to modern slavery globally. Andover Modern Abolitionist Society was inspired to co-sponsor the event with Center for Global Justice in an attempt to attract the supporters of both groups. Despite having launched a petition and a movie night, AMAS felt the need to make a tangible effort to end modern slavery. “You can only talk about it so much of the time before you have to do something,” said Alyssa Yamamoto ’08, President of AMAS. In between acts, MC’s Matt Cranney ’08 and Jonathan Adler ’08 explained the Coffeehouse’s cause to the audience, citing examples of modern slavery, such as young children snatched from their homes to work in sweatshops. “I already knew a little bit first hand… I’ve met kids who’ve worked in those sweatshops,” said Cranney on how his experience during a Children’s Rights program in India related to the Coffeehouse’s abolitionist theme. Kathryn Quijano ’08 and Adriana Flores ’08 opened the Coffeehouse with the Ingrid Michaelson song “The Way I Am,” while the two clubs sold cupcakes and slices of pizza along with free cups of Fair Trade coffee and tea. Under the Bed, the student improv group, presented a hilarious skit, followed by Max Meyer ’08 and Krystle Manuel-Countee ’09 performing Norah Jones’s “Don’t Know Why.” Kelicia Hollis ’08, an Andover Modern Abolitionist Society member, reminded the audience of the Coffeehouse’s purpose as she recited an original poem on modern slavery. Avery Stone ’10 performed a song she wrote on the guitar. Andrew Malin ’09 performed Jack Johnson’s “Flake,” and BJ Garry ’10 and Dave Knapp ’10 played Dispatch’s “The General.” “You can’t get into acoustic music as much,” said Bijan Torabi ’10 of the music selection. “I think that the message was for the music to be very sedate.” He continued, “But I think it’s a success—there are a lot of people here.” One of the attractions of the Coffeehouse was the FairTrade raffle. The prize included a FairTrade purse, wallet and bracelet from Two Hands Workshop, as well as two bars of FairTrade dark chocolate. The winner of the raffle was Elizabeth Gilbert ’10. “We wanted to show people that FairTrade can be cute,” said Center for Global Justice member Hanna Gully ‘09. Another act included Lucy Bidwell ’09, who took to the stage wearing gold spandex and a bright orange jacket, explained to the audience that she had come straight from the Dance Open before performing Tom Petty’s “Freefalling” with Matt Cranney ’08. Like Bidwell, many of the students attending the Coffeehouse were Dance Open stragglers. Saturday, March 1 was a busy night on campus, with students choosing between the Dance Open, the Tri-Floor Dance in Gelb, a guest piano recital and the Coffeehouse. Nonetheless, the members of Center for Global Justice and Andover Modern Abolitionist Society described the Coffeehouse as a success. “We got a lot of donations,” said Mat Kelley ’10. The Coffeehouse raised enough money to rescue two child slaves in Ghana’s fishing industry and to provide school supplies for three former child slaves.