We at DC – Stop Modern Slavery are proud to announce today International Justice Mission’s 5 Weeks for Freedom campaign!
Led by Venture Expeditions, a non-profit organization devoted to supporting charitable work through cycling and climbing events, 5 Weeks will follow fifteen ordinary people from all over North America as they embark on an 1800-mile bike journey from Mobile, Alabama to Buffalo, New York to retrace the steps taken by slaves fleeing the pre-Civil War South on the Underground Railroad. While state-sponsoredslavery was abolished in this country long ago, few realize that the institution continues. The Underground Railroad will be used once again as a beacon of freedom, this time as a vehicle for showing the public the truth behind modern-day slavery.
The riders, Andrew Nelson, Brittney Andrist, Clara Caruthers, David Nanne, Deborah Go, Elien Bruex, Joanne Barrow, Kyle Reiter, Laura Ranieri, Lisa, Rudzik, Margie Gordner, Merry Chadwick, Michael Bowerman, Mike Barrow, and Nathanael Hostetter come from many different walks of life, backgrounds, and regions of this continent – in one case, coming from as far as Alaska. They are students, teachers, small business owners, nurses, and engineers, and they have all taken a break from their daily lives to engage in this unprecedented project to promote advocacy and awareness of the 27 million people who, today, cannot go home.
The serendipitous nature of the meeting between IJM and Venture Expeditions came down to the simple placement of information booths. At a recent Urbana – a faith-based student ministry to encourage and support positive world change – conference the two booths of each organization were situated next to one another. As one began speaking to the other, the first glimmers of what would become 5 Weeks for Freedom began to emerge.
The riders for 5 Weeks will be followed by GPS to eight stops along their route, including Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; and the cities of Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland, Ohio, where events will include concerts, rallies, speeches, and screenings of the documentary At the End of Slavery. During their journey, each of the fifteen biking abolitionists will record their thoughts, impressions, and hopes as they come across what will surely be thousands of people and discuss the existence and prevalence of the human slave trade.
“We want to capture people’s hearts,” Daniel Li, Senior Developer and Web Strategist of the IJM explained during a recent interview. “So many people [out there] don’t know that there are 27 million slaves.” With his own interest in ending modern day slavery beginning with the help he provided his sister in establishing a campus charter for slavery awareness and outreach work, Li will be accompanying the riders along the way on what is one of IJM’s “largest projects initiated to date… (Using the Underground Railroad) is a great way to tangibly access the history of America’s abolitionist movement to make a difference again.”
As the campaign draws to a close in July, we will be back with further information and interviews with the freedom riders about their experiences from the field and the IJM’s upcoming push to establish an easy-to-implement house gathering kit for abolitionists to screen the At the End of Slavery documentary to their family and friends.
We wish the riders a safe and exciting journey, and we look forward to the stories of your experiences!
For those of you interested in attending a 5 Weeks for Freedom event in one of the above listed cities, or if you would like more information on the participants, please check out the campaign’s website at www.fiveweeksforfreedom.org
For more information on the International Justice Mission, check out IJM’s web page here.
The trailer for and more information on the documentary film, At the End of Slavery, can be seen here.
Venture Expeditions is committed to humanitarian support through the mobilization for cycling and climbing tours. Their website can be viewed here.