On the morning of the final day of Homecoming week, students may wake up early to support their friends and organizations in the Homecoming parade, then walk over to the BearFest Village Tailgate.
Due to COVID-19, this year will look much different. In lieu of the parade and tailgate, students can attend the A21 Global Freedom Summit — a21.org, an international 24-hour event that sheds light on human trafficking awareness across the globe.
A21 stands for Abolishing Slavery in the 21st Century. 2020 is the seventh year the walk has been held internationally and will be the third time it’s been hosted in Springfield.
The date of this year’s walk is Saturday, Oct. 17. It will be held at Jordan Valley Park and put on by Springfield’s STAND or Stand Against Human Trafficking.
The A21 Global Freedom Summit walk is completely silent, but participants can walk around with signs.
As defined on A21’s website, human trafficking is “the illegal trade of human beings, the recruitment, control and use of people for their bodies and for their labor.”
Last year’s walk was hosted by the Student Government Association and STAND, largely in part to former SGA Chief Interpersonal Violence Prevention Commissioner Cameron Jordan. The walk had 135 participants from both campus and Springfield attend.
“You can’t end something you don’t know exists,” Jordan said. “That’s the issue with human trafficking: it’s hiding in the dark. The A21 Walk for Freedom is the biggest single global attempt to tell people that we won’t stand for trafficking anymore and to invite others to join us.”
Making the effort to attend the walk gives Missouri State students the opportunity to support a cause bigger than themselves.
“Our age demographic is the prime target of a lot of human trafficking,” said SGA Chief Interpersonal Violence Prevention Commissioner Emily Taylor. “So, being able to know it, understand it and acknowledge it will help with overall prevention.”
According to 417 Magazine, this modern day slavery takes place across Southwest Missouri with cases all along I-44.
Due to COVID-19, if students or members of the Springfield community are unable to attend the walk, they can watch a live broadcast via A21’s website or Instagram.
For those interested in attending, complete the local registration link on the a21 website prior to the walk.