In May, 1865, the black residents of Charleston, South Carolina, erected a memorial arch in a local park to honor fallen soldiers from their community, declaring a day of tribute for those who had bravely served in the US Civil War. This collective action was covered by a news correspondent from the New York Tribune, with the story serving to disseminate the notion of Memorial Day to the US population at large.

At the time of the first Memorial Day, news stringers and telegrapher operators were the sole source of “news” and information. Who was the brave stringer pitching this story within a fractured and marginalized society? And, who was the editor with enough veracity to green light its publication? Without press resolve, today would be just another Monday in May.

So much of how we formulate our own truths and subjective responses to the world around us stem from the press’s ability to communicate freely and clearly from their respective posts. The voice or tone with which information is conveyed has the ability to soothe or excite. Images can portray visceral reality when words fall short.

For example, the public outrage expressed by US citizens in response to the litany of photographs displaying flag-draped caskets of our young men returning from war, served as an impetus for ending our country’s active combat in Vietnam. This era set the precedent to the US government’s current ban on war dead photography from the War on Terror.

But, before Southeast Asia’s dispatchers and the Middle East’s imbeds, there were the brave female stringers of World War II. After the suffragists and before the bra-burners, these women shattered the ceiling of what had been entirely a man’s world: giving voice to the front lines of war.

The horrors of destruction, devastation, and depravity were suddenly expressed through the pensive eyes and reflections of sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers. Without them, the legacy of the Greatest Generation would be unwritten. Though the realities of this war brought the world to its knees, it raised journalist integrity and equality to new heights.

Today, we write to honor the memory of our sisters, saluting those who fell in battle, holding the truth, that the pen will always be mightier than the sword.



The Human Trafficking Trap


January 11th was Human Trafficking Day, a date and topic that hits close to home for us here at 50 Cents. Period. as we continue to fight against cultural stigmas and to educate young girls worldwide. Human trafficking is an obvious blockade to education. Adolescent girls are the main prey for the slavers, who often hunt in areas where there is a strong cultural stigma surrounding the topics of reproductive health and menstrual cycles. These young girls have had little to no education on women’s health, and the confines of the slave trade industry offer no opportunities to remedy that situation.

But the impact of the human slave trade penetrates much deeper into a community than just limited a woman’s knowledge and control of her reproductive and health choices. Human trafficking has recently received a lot of attention from the international press, but for 50.Cents. Period, the problem hits close to home for another reason. It might surprise many that Atlanta (where 50 Cents. Period. is headquartered) is considered the sexual exploitation hub of the United States. Atlanta CBS affiliate WGCL reported last week that approximately 200-300 girls are sexually exploited in Georgia each month, with up to half of those occurrences in Atlanta. Some are runaways, who may be trying to escape physical abuse at home. Typically, these girls are lured into the sex trade around the age of 12. Some are young girls who have been trafficked into the United States from all regions of the world and represent a variety of different races, ethnic groups and religions. Some may be brought to the U.S. legally, but most of them are smuggled in specifically for the sex trade. The rapid increase of this crime is alarming; the United States Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has stated that human trafficking has surpassed the sale of illegal arms, and estimates that within a few years, it will also surpass the drug trade. In the U.S. the human trafficking trade has seen significant increases over the past two years, and is now present (and growing) in all fifty states.

What is 50 Cents. Period. doing about human trafficking? First and most importantly, we are spreading the word. Educating the public about the problem is the first step in solving the problem. In Atlanta, we work with refugee communities to make sure girls and women are aware of the exploitation in the community, and provide educational programs to empower them against those who would seek to victimize them. We provide a safe place for them to go if they need to report cases of exploitation, or to escape from possible dangers themselves.

50 Cents. Period.’s stated mission is to “empower women and girls to stay fully engaged in their communities and education.” While the focus of the organization’s efforts have been around removing the stigma and barriers surrounding period, gender and reproductive choices, it is becoming increasingly vital that women and girls be given the tools and the self-confidence to avoid the trap of exploitation. With the appropriate publicity and resources to continue raising awareness, we can continue to enable women of all ages to address a situation that is detrimental to them and their community.