2012 milestones and shared victories
January 1 – Google joins us in the fight against slavery, and turns up the heat to fund mobilizing advocates in the U.S. and overseas in India.
January 17 – Your Voices Heard: The state legislature in New Jersey passed a crucial piece of legislation that will aid victims of human trafficking. This bill, called a safe harbor law, is an important step forward in the fight against slavery right here in our own country.
January 24 – With the President’s State of the Union address that night, Justice Campaigns advocates around the country begin mobilizing others to ask the President to make slavery a priority. Goal set: 27,000 signatures (symbolizing the 27 million slaves around the world).
February 29 – We meet our goal of 27,000 signatures for President Obama, but decide to build on this momentum to mobilize even more voices (see a video from Holly).
March 11 – 72 Days for Freedom Campaign launches – Atlanta’s Passion City Church joins Justice Campaigns to turn the 27,000 number upside down and sets a new goal of 72,000 signatures asking President Obama to help end slavery..
April 5 – Your Voices Heard: West Virginia became the 49th state to pass a criminal law against human trafficking. The bill criminalizes both labor and sex trafficking and authorizes training for law enforcement to help them identify and investigate trafficking cases. Advocates throughout West Virginia had worked hard to lay the groundwork for this bill’s passing, including IJM state advocacy leaders Travis Wirt and Kendra Rogers, who worked to educate their state legislators about the bill and were invited to attend the bill signing.
April 16 – On IJM Justice Campaigns’ annual lobby day, advocates from 40 states around the country joined us to storm the Hill and make our voices heard to Congress.
April 26 – 72 Days for Freedom is a huge success – and 72,000th person signs a letter to President Obama.
June 18 - On the same day the U.S. State Department issued the annual Trafficking Persons (TIP) Report, Gary Haugen, IJM’s CEO and President received the abolition movement’s highest honor. The U.S. State Department awarded Gary and nine others its annual anti-trafficking TIP Hero award. Gary also delivers the 73,000 letters to President Obama, along with Louis Giglio of Passion City Church.
June 20 – IJM Justice Campaigns announces Recipe for Change, its first-ever domestic supply chain advocacy campaign to end slavery in Florida’s tomato fields. Celebrity bloggers, food advocates and hundreds of others joined us to spread the word. Nearly 8,000 emails were sent to CEOs from major supermarkets that have not signed onto the Fair Food Program, and more than 3,000 tweets shared our message.
July 17 – Holly Burkhalter, our VP of Government Relations, testifies before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations along with Jada Pinkett Smith and David Abramowitz. As she describes in her letter from Washington, she expresses her excitement for the opportunity she had to speak with one voice collectively about the issues we care about. Meeting the Smiths wasn’t bad, either.
September 1 – Advocates around the country gather around major supermarket chain locations of companies who have not signed onto the Fair Food Program in Recipe for Change’s National Day of Action.
September 25 – Your Voices Heard: A the Clinton Global Initiative conference, the President of the United States delivers a speech that squarely addresses the issue of modern day slavery and includes several new initiatives to combat it. President Obama also issues an Executive Order to address slavery in U.S. government contracts, one of the main priorities identified in the 73,000 letters we delivered.
November 14 - The Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking is formed, co-chaired by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rob Portman (R-OH). This Caucus will provide a multijurisdictional forum where members can come together to combat human trafficking. Senator Portman's championing in the fight against slavery was emboldened through the advocacy of thousands of Ohioans.
November 27- The U.S. State Department, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center honors IJM President and CEO Gary Haugen as the second American to receive this year’s TIP Hero award. At the reception, they also unveil the film Journey to Freedom, which includes stories of anti-trafficking victims and heroes—a film played in U.S. Embassies around the globe.
November 29 - Your Voices Heard: The Senate and House pass the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act, which requires government contractors to take full responsibility for the actions of their subcontractors and recruiters regarding labor trafficking.
As we wrap up this year and look back on these victories from 2012 which we share together, let’s be encouraged about our journey ahead. As Holly puts it, now the hard work begins, but 2012 has shown us better than ever that together we are capable of moving the needle.