Thoughts About Freedom Day 2009
Freedom Day came and went this past Sunday in sunny (i.e., extremely hot) San Dimas, CA. We had a few hundred show up to (1) learn more about the issue of modern-day slavery, (2) network with amazing organizations, and (3) collaboratively work together with practical tools to end slavery in our lifetime.
This was the second Freedom Day that we at One Voice to End Slavery hosted in Southern California. The first one took place back in March of 2007. Although our first Freedom Day had significantly more turnout (over 1,200), this year’s gathering seemed a lot more special. Here are some of the reasons why:
- It appeared that many of those in attendance were already working with organizations and/or agencies to bring an end to slavery. In other words, it was a great gathering of several practitioners in the field already making a difference. In turn, this allowed for several great conversations about both the progress and field-based difficulties many were facing in (re)abolition movement.
- It was amazing to have both Melissa Farley (www.prostituteresearch.com) and Kevin Bales (www.freetheslaves.net) speak to us as keynotes. These two are leading thinkers and experts in the field when it comes combating slavery. Dr. Farley did a wonderful job in connecting poverty to prostitution and slavery here in the United States. Also, Kevin Bales is one of my heroes when it comes to this injustice. It was great to spend some time with him and ask him some questions about recent progress in the fight against slavery. (Side Note: Video from an interview I did with him will be posted shortly.)
- There was a deep sense of hope through the entire event. I think we really didn’t know what we were putting together the first time around in 2007. Although we are still relatively new to the issue, I think we have matured some in creating an event that was more meaningful and impactful. Our growth in knowledge and practical, field-based experiences have really allowed us to connect and bring in a good combination of people who really are making a difference. I felt there was more substance this time around.
Will there be more Freedom Days? I hope so. I believe that it will continue to evolve and take shape as more and more join this movement of modern-day abolitionists.
Many thanks to Greg Russinger (my partner in crime and co-founder of JustOne), Jo Coles (Stop the Traffik), Life Pacific College (our host), and YOU for participating in a historic event that will have as its fruit people freed from slavery in the near future.
In closing, I wanted to share the work of my friend and abolitionist, Rich Brimer, who created a powerful piece of art during our gathering. Please take a moment to view his work below and may it be a remembrance of why we do what we do: