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Movement urges students to take action
Goal is to end modern-day slavery
End WEB 1
The Brett Younker Band performs during the End It Movement event at West Forsyth High School on Wednesday night. - photo by Crystal Ledford

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A group of students from Forsyth’s five public high schools came together Wednesday to focus on ending slavery throughout the world.

The event, held in the West Forsyth High gym, was organized by several West students.

They were inspired after attending the Passion Conference, a large Christian gathering for college and high school students held in January in Atlanta.

At that event, the End It Movement, which seeks to raise awareness and action to end modern slavery and human trafficking, was begun.

“A lot of the seniors went to Passion and came back with this movement, which they launched on Feb. 1,” said Payton Moree, one of the four students who organized Wednesday’s event.

“We’re just getting the awareness of these organizations that are out there and doing stuff every day to end slavery.”

Bryson Vogeltanz, chief steward of the End It Movement, was one of several speakers who addressed the students.

Superintendent Buster Evans and Sheriff Duane Piper also briefly spoke, stating their support of the students’ efforts. The Brett Younker Band also performed several Christian songs.

Vogeltanz said that while many Americans think slavery ended in 1865 following the Civil War, there are at least 27 million people throughout the world held against their will.

While the majority of them are women and young girls forced into prostitution, Vogeltanz also said there are men and boys forced to work under inhumane circumstances in facilities such as factories and mines.

“The goal for tonight is that you can help have a better understanding of what global, modern-day slavery looks like,” Vogeltanz said. “Slavery is a tough issue. It’s not easy to talk about and I love that you guys are high school students and you want to talk about it. That’s a huge step.”

He told students that every year some 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S., where they will eventually be held as slaves.

Atlanta is one of the top 15 cities in the country for human trafficking.

“We have the most used airport in the world, so it makes sense that trafficking is huge here,” he said.

Around the world, he said, every two minutes a child is sold into slavery, which has become a $32 billion-a-year industry.

“The NFL is a really popular thing … it’s this super successful industry … and slavery is three times more profitable than the entire NFL,” he said.

To illustrate the magnitude, Vogeltanz used state populations.

“Twenty-seven million people is the population of Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi combined,” he said.

In addition to awareness, Vogeltanz encouraged students to awaken and take action.

“Once you know, you can’t un-know,” he said. “There’s this pendulum from awareness to awakening to action. We are all aware of things around us … but when you actually awaken to something, you can’t undo that, you can’t just fall back asleep.

“So the goal is not awareness, the goal is awakening because you cannot do anything until you’ve been awakened.”

Vogeltanz also encouraged the students to take part in Shine a Light on Slavery Day on April 9.

Through the End It Movement, students and adults are asked to place a red X on their hand that day.

“You will be surprised how many people will ask, ‘Why do you have that big red X on your hand?’ And that’s your chance to them about slavery.”

Vogeltanz stressed the importance of each student’s involvement.

“You cannot tell the whole world, but you can tell your world,” he told them. “You have a world and if all of us tell our world, then the whole world will hear.”

Moree, the student organizer, agreed.

“It’s just kind of crazy to be a part of this thing and maybe someday be able to say, ‘Yeah, I was there and I was a freedom fighter and I really just wanted to end it.’”