Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Breaking: PCCD appoints former San Leandro police chief to Interim Executive Director of Public Safety
Breaking: PCCD appoints former San Leandro police chief to Interim Executive Director of Public Safety
Abdul Pridgen will lead the district’s community-based safety program
Li Khan, Editor in Chief • June 21, 2024
Carpentry instructor spruces up department
Carpentry instructor spruces up department
Rym-Maya Kherbache, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
A cap at the Laney College commencement ceremony on May 24 reads in Spanish, This is for my mom who gave me everything. (Photo: Marcus Creel/PCCD)
Graduations, resignations and more: PCCD Trustees wrap up school year at 5/28 meeting
Romi Bales, Staff Writer • June 17, 2024
Student Trustee Natasha Masand believes her voice has the power to impact the PCCD community.
Student Trustee Natasha Masand finds her voice
Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Social Media Editor • March 19, 2024

    Laney alum releases first documentary

    Melody Miller’s child sex-trafficking film focuses on Oakland

    by Yohana Gebre

    A still from “California’s Forgotten Children, directed by Melody Miller, focuses on child trafficking in California. Miller, a Laney alum, graduated from the UCLA School of Theater and Film in 2014. (Film still courtesy of Melody Miller)

    Laney alum and UCLA graduate Melody Miller released a feature documentary March 25 that brings awareness to child sex trafficking in California, especially in Oakland.

    “California’s Forgotten Children” retells survivors’ stories of being commercially and sexually exploited, their escape from captures, and their struggle for victims’ rights.

    The film claims that Oakland’s International Boulevard is a thriving market for adults to sell children into the sex trade.

    After the movie screening, Nancy O’Malley, district attorney of Alameda County and leader of non-profit anti-trafficking organization H.E.A.T. Watch (Human Exploitation And Trafficking Watch), said that 46 percent of all prosecuted human trafficking cases in California since 2011 came from the Alameda District Attorney’s office.

    An Oakland native, Miller said she was inspired to make the documentary while in high school, when she first learned that human sex trafficking was happening in India and Nepal. She connected and volunteered with M.I.S.S.S.E.Y. (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting, and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth), a survivor-led Oakland-based non-profit that educates the public and supports victims of trafficking.

    “I started volunteering for [M.I.S.S.S.E.Y], and little did I know that people in my own community and even in my own high school were being commercially sexually exploited,” Miller said. “That changed my whole perspective and understanding around the issue.”

    Miller has been volunteering with M.I.S.S.S.E.Y. for nine years now and has made several films that have won the organization some money. She learned how to make movies and film design at Laney College during the night and went to high school and M.I.S.S.S.E.Y. during the day.

    Laney Media Professor Marla Leech taught Miller Final Cut Pro in 2008 as well as acting and directing with a camera and media video production. “Marla Leech is my biggest influence and she is like my second mom,” Miller said. Leech is currently on sabbatical leave from Laney.

    Miller graduated from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television in 2014, with an emphasis on cinematography and documentary production. At UCLA, she was able to start formulating and creating “California’s Forgotten Children”. While at UCLA, she volunteered for three years at “LA Stop the Traffik,” a student-run non-profit organization at UCLA that brings awareness to sex trafficking. It took five years for Miller to produce the documentary.

    “Overall, it was a beautifully thorned road,” she said. Miller says that the process of making the documentary helped shape her into the person she is today.

    “[The film] let me realize who the true heroes are, and that the true heroes are survivors just for overcoming what they have experienced: the worst things possible,” Miller said. She admires any human being that can endure being exploited and emerge an advocate for change and peace.

    Yohana Gebre is a Tower staff writer.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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