Members of the Mississippi State University and Starkville community will march around the Drill Field to voice their concerns for human trafficking victims this Saturday. This march is a part of A21’s annual Walk for Freedom, an event seeking to raise awareness of human trafficking taking place all over the world.
A21, Abolishing Injustice in the 21st century, was founded in 2008 by Australian activist Christine Caine. Since its foundation, the organization has provided care and services to human trafficking victims, and operates at a global level with 14 offices in 12 countries.
This is the second time A21's Walk for Freedom has taken place at MSU, and is sponsored by MSU’s Saving Silhouettes, an organization which opposes human trafficking among other human rights violations. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. in front of the Dave C. Swalm School of Engineering Building. Participants are expected to arrive in black attire, brandishing signs, bandannas and other materials supporting trafficked victims.
Claire Hilton, director of MSU’s Walk for Freedom and a member of Saving Silhouettes, said she chose to participate in order to tackle this rarely-discussed issue.
"This allows our local community to be a part of a global movement for justice," Hilton said. "By promoting education about the issue, we can empower every-day people to make a difference toward human trafficking."
The walk will start with opening remarks from event organizers before supporters will begin the approximately one mile-long walk in a silent, single-file line around the Drill Field. Occurring at the same time as similar walks in 400 other cities and over 50 countries, this event makes a powerful and united message against human trafficking.
At the walk’s conclusion, Paula Broome, chief of the Bureau of Victim Assistance and Human Trafficking Coordinator in the Office of the Mississippi Attorney General, will discuss the brutal reality of human trafficking and how participants can continue to show their support.
Anyone can register for this free event, but fundraising is a major goal. All donations go toward A21’s efforts to prosecute traffickers, provide support to rescued victims and raise awareness toward modern-day slavery.
Stephanie Durr, president of Saving Silhouettes and senior political science major, said she is dedicated to supporting and promoting the fight against human trafficking.
"This is an incredible opportunity for MSU students and the Starkville community to make an impact that goes far beyond our town," Durr said. "By participating, anyone can raise their voice for the victims that can't do so themselves."
Landon Casey, senior computer engineering major, said he is disgusted by the ongoing crisis of human trafficking.
"Human trafficking is one of the vilest and despicable things that exists in our world today,” Casey said. "While our country remains divided about many issues, it's inspiring to see others gather to support the victims of this horrible crime."
Hilton, senior communication major, said she wants people to participate in this walk so the world will know that society will not stand for this form of injustice, and will fight to make a difference.
"If we just keep gathering together, human trafficking can be abolished," Hilton said. "We make a much greater impact together than if we stand alone."