Music and Modern Day Slavery

Music is a powerful way to tell a story, convey a message, make a point, or spread awareness according to Mark Sullivan, MHTTF member and Associate Professor and Director of Computer Music Studies at Michigan State University’s College of Music.  Concerned that many people can become paralyzed by the overwhelming problem of human trafficking, Sullivan has been inspired to create work that doesn’t just dwell on the horror of human trafficking.  His goal is to use art and music to illustrate the gravity of human trafficking while also showing that it’s possible to solve the problem and empower survivors.  

Collaborating with an amazing team of artists and administrators Sullivan is part of a team that is bringing internationally known jazz artist, Billy Childs, to Fairchild Auditorium to perform a commemorative concert celebrating the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday January 17.  President Lou Ann K. Simon and Dr. Roy J. Simon personally commissioned Childs to write and perform a new composition on human trafficking, “Do You Know My Name,” which will be performed at the concert.  The original work by Childs will communicate the anguish and isolation of human trafficking in a lyrical, artistic, and audience-inclusive manner.  There will be two performances on Sunday, January 17 at the Fairchild Auditorium.  Tickets for the 3:00 and 7:00pm performances are free but tickets are required and have been going fast. 

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in and fought for the equality and dignity of all human beings.  It is appropriate that his memory is celebrated with a musical performance that communicates the injustice of human sex and labor trafficking and invites all of us to become aware and to work together to fight it.

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posted by Carrie Booth Walling, editor of the Voices of Change blog and member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.  Walling can be contacted at