How Harry Potter fans won a four-year fight against child slavery
January 21, 2015 8:56 AM Subscribe
Right before Christmas, Warner Bros. quietly gave “Harry Potter” fans what was, for some of them, a long-wished-for gift. In a letter to Andrew Slack, the founder of the Harry Potter Alliance, Joshua Berger, the company’s president for Harry Potter Global Franchise Development, announced, “By the end of 2015, and sooner when possible, all Harry Potter chocolate products sold at Warner Bros. outlets and through our licensed partners will be 100-percent UTZ or Fair Trade certified.”
When Slack and his co-creators founded the Harry Potter Alliance in 2005, they were animated by the idea that J.K. Rowling’s novels, inspired both by her own experiences with poverty and her work at Amnesty International, could be a powerful source of moral precepts and ideas about how to build a more just world. They made videos about Walmart, comparing the corporation to Voldemort, the “Harry Potter” novels’ totalitarian villain, and started a large book drive. But over time their ambitions grew, applying a similar approach to Suzanne Collins’s dystopian exploration of inequality, “The Hunger Games,” and considering how alliance members might be convinced to move from what Slack refers to as “charity and acts of service” to more direct advocacy.
“It’s all well and good to send the silver parachutes,” Slack told me in an interview last week, referring to the care packages that “Hunger Games” characters can send participants during televised fights to the death, “But the Games are still the Games.”
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