UT students braved the rain, cold, and wind to participate in the International Justice Mission's (IJM) Stand for Freedom to bring awareness of modern-day slavery.
The stand lasted for 27 hours with students perched for various intervals throughout that time period. The rain moved the event to the Presidential courtyard but for the rest of the time, 23 students stood for the movement along Pedestrian Walkway.
Stand for Freedom is part of the larger IJM “End It Movement” which has the purpose of raising awareness of international modern slavery and the movement to abolish it.
People easily contribute to slavery without knowing they are. They don’t understand the conditions people are working in that make some of the products being purchased. -Rachel Lee, co-founder of the UTK IJM
The 27 hours represented the 27 million people currently enslaved throughout the world.
“People don’t realize how large of an issue slavery is today,” said Rachel Lee, co-founder of the UTK team of IJM. “Even within the United States, slavery continues daily.”
No form of slavery is neglected by the movement, as it tackles everything from sex to labor slavery.
“People easily contribute to slavery without knowing they are,” Lee said. “They don’t understand the conditions people are working in that make some of the products being purchased.”
The Stand hopes to spread the importance of being aware of these conditions and of the enslaved individuals around the world. IJM employees work with local officials to help protect the needs of those being oppressed and abused by improving public justice systems.
The Stand for Freedom will be accepting donations that will help IJM continue its work.
The issue of trafficking and other slavery has become a hot topic amongst many UT students who attended the Passion Conference in early January. Julie Blackenter, a junior who stood for 9 hours, was one of these individuals.
“It [Passion] helped me realize how big trafficking is and I wanted to do what I could to help," Blackenter said.” Reflecting on the large student population there’s so many of us that we could come together to make a big difference.”
Reflecting on the large student population there’s so many of us that we could come together to make a big difference. -Julie Blackenter, junior at UT
Along with donations, the Stand is looking to receive a thousand signatures on a petition that will be sent to President Obama.
“Modern slavery is very secretive and spreading awareness of it forces people to pay more attention,” Lee said.
There will be a candlelight vigil in Presidential Courtyard Thursday March 7 from 7-8:30 p.m.
"The Stand for Freedom hopes to accomplish this," said Blackenter. "Hopefully we can get a flame started."
Students can continue to stop by and support the cause through donations and by signing the petition.
For further information on IJM and how to help, please contact Rachel Lee at email@example.com.