As part of the launch of The Freedom Commons, Justice Campaigns will be featuring a state advocate leader monthly. We have asked them to share their stories about what makes them passionate about the anti-slavery work and how they became an advocate for justice.
Sara Meadows Tolleson - IJM Justice Campaigns State Leader - Louisiana
“It is an absolutely sacred act that we do when we advocate for people who we will never meet but who have been completely stripped of their dignity, their humanity and clearly their freedom.”Read More
On Tuesday, 9/25, the President of the United States gave a speech in New York that squarely addressed the issue of modern day slavery and included several new initiatives to combat it A Presidential Initiative is exactly what IJM and other groups have been requesting. In January, 2012, IJM launched a sign-on letter to President Obama asking him to exert his leadership on the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by speaking to the General Assembly about modern day slavery, by funding the fight against slavery by initiating new funding for liberating slaves and prosecuting perpetrators, and to eliminate slavery in the U.S. supply chain. Read More
On September 4, friends of IJM made at least 2,399 phone calls urging their Senators to pass the most important piece of human rights legislation of our day: the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). I say at least 2,399 because that is how many calls were logged on IJMs Justice Campaigns website, but many others probably calledand asked their friends and relatives to do the same. Together, we reached 98 Senate offices!Read More
Crystal Brunton is a volunteer for IJM and helps lead the advocacy efforts in her home state of Florida. This past summer, Crystal drove 170 miles down to Immokalee, Fla. where she documented her first-hand experience meeting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and tomato pickers in the area.Read More
Check out yesterdays op-ed in the Washington Post written by Holly Burkhalter, IJM vice president of government relations. Holly writes about the importance of the Fair Food Program in ending slavery in Floridas tomato fields.
Since 1997, the Justice Department has prosecuted seven cases of slavery in the Florida agricultural industry four involving tomato harvesters freeing more than 1,000 men and women. The stories are a catalogue of horrors: abductions, pistol whippings, confinement at gunpoint, debt bondage and starvation wages.Read More
The first meetings that led to the formation of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers took place in a church basement. And ever since the CIWs inception in the mid-1990s, men and women motivated by their faith have raised strong voices calling for justice and freedom for farmworkers in Floridas tomato fields. This week, we want to share resources provided by some of the people and congregations in this work as a response to Gods call to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke. Read More
Earlier this month, I sent a letter to the CEOs of Ahold, Kroger, and Publix, asking them to join the Fair Food Program (FFP). Under the leadership of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the FFP was developed by farmworkers and tomato growers in Florida, and has made enormous strides in ending slavery and other serious abuses on Floridas tomato farms. The Program requires participating buyers (like supermarkets) to pay a bit more for tomatoes (a penny and a half per pound) to support a small wage increase for tomato farmworkers, and to require their suppliers to abide by the Fair Food Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct includes a zero tolerance policy for slavery and other serious abuses; buyers commit to purchasing their tomatoes from growers who abide by the Code, and not from those who wont. The FFP is overseen by an independent monitoring system called the Fair Food Standards Council. Read More
Throughout our Recipe for Change campaign this summer, well be sharing stories about slavery in Floridas tomato fields. We are grateful to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for providing this story.
In 1992, a hopeful 19-year-old named Julia left war-torn Guatemala for the United States; her mother, earning a meager $55 a month, was struggling to support her family. Julia hoped to find work in the U.S. in order to send money back to help. Little did she know what awaited. Here I was, thinking I was coming to America for a better life but this was a real nightmare, she recalled. Read More
I have testified many times over my 30-year career as an international human rights activist. I remember only too vividly my very first one. It was on the subject of human rights in Romania, and I believe the year was 1983. I was so frightened I almost fainted at the witness table. Im sure my voice quavered and Ill bet I said uh every other word. Somehow, in spite of me, the message about Romanian human rights got through, and the Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee were kind.
Public speaking became easier with practice, of course, and I came to love it. Over the years, I testified on dozens of countries and issues: Genocide. HIV/AIDS. Sexual assault. U.S. human rights policy. Conflict diamonds. Labor rights.
But Ive never had so much fun in my life than when I got to testify on July 17 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Read More
Your Voice Matters: Plan an In-District Meeting with Your Members of Congress
During the month of August, senators and representatives return home to their states and districts for a congressional recessa perfect opportunity for you to schedule an in-district meeting with them in your area. Your priorities matter to them most, so make sure your voice is heard this summer!
Kim Merida, an advocate from North Carolina, shared with us about meeting with her elected officials last summer.Read More