MILLIGAN COLLEGE — Around 27 million people across the world are slaves today.
To help raise awareness of that fact and hopefully bring about change, Milligan College students participated in the Stand for Freedom event beginning Tuesday at 2 p.m. As part of this event, students promised to stand for an hour in recognition of people in slavery.
The event will end today at 5 p.m., exactly 27 hours later. That’s one hour for every million people in bondage.
“We had people sign up for hour shifts, and we do have a couple people that signed up to stand the whole 27-hour period, so that’s pretty big,” said Danica Collins, president of Milligan’s Student Government Association.
During that 27-hour period, participants will raise money, share stories of rescue, sign pledges to stop slavery and learn other ways to get involved.
“From this we’re hoping to let people know that slavery is out there and give them tools on how to help end it,” Collins said.
According to a news release from Milligan, Stand for Freedom events are part of an outreach of International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. According to statistics from IJM, 27 million people are enslaved throughout the world, which is the largest amount in history.
Stand for Freedom is occurring on campuses across the world beginning Tuesday through March 15.
Collins first learned about Stand for Freedom and the numbered who are enslaved at a Passion conference in Georgia in January 2012. This past January the Stand for Freedom movement was promoted at that conference. Collins took the initiative back to her campus.
“From there we just kind of blew it up and have been telling everybody we know about it,” Collins said.
Anyone is invited to come to Milligan’s McMahan Student Center to participate in the event, watch a video on slavery and check out ways to get involved in ending slavery.
Several computers were set up at the event to provide the opportunity to send messages directly to the president or other politicians petitioning for an end to slavery.
Another computer provided direct access to a petition to make sure all states in America have good child labor laws and that these laws are being enforced.
“And then we also have another (computer) station about Slavery Footprint, which is an organization where you can track where your merchandises actually comes from and see if a slave made them,” Collins said.
Christopher Boswell, a Milligan student who began working with a ministry called One7, which focuses on helping struggling youths, said that organization will bring in some of the children from Johnson City’s One7 group to the Stand for Freedom event.
“It’ll be great for these kids to be exposed to what’s going on in the world so that they can have a broader perspective on not just how much people need help here in Johnson City but also in a broad perspective around the whole globe,” he said.
Collins said it was important for people to realize slavery is not an old practice that has died out, but that it is very much present in the world today.
“A lot of people think that it ended with (President Abraham) Lincoln but it actually still goes on here in America and a whole bunch of other countries,” adding that people today can build on Lincoln’s work to cease slavery altogether.
For more information on IJM or to participate in the Stand for Freedom movement, visit www.ijm.org/stand.