Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all’. That’s Emily Dickenson. I’m not a human trafficking survivor. I’m actually really tired of that label. What I am is a hope dealer. Because when we’re sitting across from someone who has been indescribably traumatized. The underlying pervasive question that they have is, ‘Is there hope for me?’
— - Leah Albright-Byrd, Freedom Summit 2015

STORY

Leah was a vulnerable fourteen year old girl by the time she ran away. She had already experienced domestic violence, poverty, and instability in her home. For the next four years she was ensnared in a teenage sex trafficking ring. Leah lived through some of the worst things a human being can imagine. When her young friend Bridget was murdered, she hit bottom.  With a heavy heart, she filtered her pain into a desire for justice and became an activist. Leah launched Bridget’s Dream, an anti-trafficking organization to help other girls like Bridget who were still trapped in the brutality of street life. With a spiritual fire in her belly, she became a pioneer in the national anti-trafficking movement.

Leah was the spokesperson for Proposition 35 in California, worked with victims and their families, taught prevention curriculum in public high schools, and brought national attention to the epidemic of child sex trafficking.  Her story was featured on Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric, Being Mary Jane and BET TV.

Despite her accomplishments, Leah struggled with vicarious trauma from working in the field and her own PTSD. In the spotlight, she was a natural motivator, but at home behind closed doors, she struggled to meet her own needs. Was Bridget’s Dream actually her dream? Ultimately, Leah burned out as an activist. She gave herself permission to explore her calling as a singer songwriter. Her voice is remarkable. In the battle to change the world, self-love proved to be the final frontier.

TOPIC

Still I Rise explores modern day sex trafficking as part of a continuum of oppression that began with the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Interviews with prominent scholars and activists, such as Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, Holly Joshi and Dr. Nikki Jones, provide critical historical and social context to commercial sexual exploitation and the disproportionate impact on black communities throughout the United States.

TEAM

Our film team includes: director Sheri Shuster, editor/composer James Grisom, four-time Academy Award winner Mark Berger, Emmy Award winner Layda Negrete, editor Maureen Gosling, USC Assistant Professor of Cinema Practice, DJ Johnson, and UC Berkeley Professor Dr. Nikki Jones. We are passionate people who leverage our creativity and convictions to tell a powerful story, and tell it with love.

PRESS

KTVU CHANNEL 2 NEWS:

Bay Area Police Sex Trafficking Case