What began as a school project for their video production class became the empowering experience of a lifetime for two CPS students, as they received national recognition for delving into the issues of human trafficking and slavery.
Ingrid Agulo and Rondell Freeman, both of Prologue Early College High School, recently returned from Washington D.C., where they received an award for their video on slavery and human trafficking. The video competition was sponsored by the Frederick Douglas Family Foundation (FDFF), which has created a curriculum for high school students titled 100 Days of Freedom.
“The foundation has done a great job of addressing this issue, especially as it relates to young people,” said Walter Perkins, Curriculum and Instruction Specialist for Prologue. “This contest was the students’ chance to learn about the topic and share their views.”
For more than two months, Ingrid and Rondell outlined their project, fitting together many photos, as well as facts and video clips from the Smithsonian Institute. The final project was a 10-minute video focused on both the history of slavery and the continued enslavement of youth internationally.
“There was so much I didn’t know about this issue, and our research really opened my eyes,” said Ingrid. “And not just about traditional slavery, but other kinds that still exist today, like poor working conditions in factories, and how certain groups of immigrants are taken advantage of all the time.”
The students were informed in early December that they had won the national competition – an announcement that brought pride and excitement to the entire school.
“They’re both outstanding students,” said Dr. Nancy Jackson, Executive Director for Prologue. “We are so proud of what they’ve accomplished through this great work.”
Located in West Town, Prologue serves 225 students ages 17-21, all of whom had previously dropped out of other high schools. “These are students who need a second chance,” said Jackson, “and it has been our mission for 40 years to give them that chance.”
In mid-January, the Frederick Douglas Family Foundation flew Ingrid and Rondell to Washington D.C. for three days of sightseeing, award ceremonies, and discussion about the issues that had been at the heart of their video project. Neither had ever been to the nation’s capital before, so the trip created much excitement.
“It was great for them to have the opportunity to see the seat of government and interact with adults that can serve as role models for them,” said Walter Perkins, who accompanied Ingrid and Rondell to D.C. “An experience like this is empowering for young people. It makes them realize that they can make a difference.”
During their time in D.C., the students were able to meet with representatives from the FDFF, as well as visit the FBI Building and speak with federal agents about ways to stop slavery and human trafficking around the world. They also visited numerous historical sites, including the Washington Monument, the home of Frederick Douglas, and the memorial dedicated to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During the award ceremony that marked their accomplishment, both students signed a proclamation urging President Obama to address the issue of modern-day slavery. They also celebrated the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and were asked to say a few words about what the experience of creating their video had meant to them.
“I was really nervous to speak,” said Rondell. “My heart was pounding. But it was a good moment, because I felt like I was important.”
“I hope that our video will help people see that slavery is not just a thing of the past,” said Ingrid. It still goes on today, and we need more people to get involved if we’re going to stop it from happening.”
Watch the Prologue students’ award-winning video: