On November 27, 2012, IJM President Gary Haugen was honored for his leadership in the fight against slavery by the U.S. State Department at a private reception that also served as the U.S. premiere of the new anti-slavery film Journey to Freedom.
The reception held in Haugen's honor brought together leaders from the U.S. State Department, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Christina Tchen, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement commended Haugen for leading IJM's global team in the fight against modern-day slavery and for mobilizing the growing justice movement.
Ambassador Luis CdeBaca from the TIP Office thanked IJM and other organizations working against traffickers and slave-owners today. The Ambassador acknowledged that securing freedom around the world is a battle even now, just as it was in the U.S. more than a century ago, saying "there is no justice without struggle."
Following the reception, attendees screened the new film Journey to Freedom, produced by The Freedom Center, Fair Trade Pictures and Justin Dillon, CEO of Slavery Footprint.
Linking the real-life stories of two men tricked into slavery—one from New York in 1841 and one from Cambodia in 2006—the film compares America's historic Underground Railroad with the State Department's 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report Heroes, including Haugen, seeking an end to slavery today.
Haugen joined Justin Dillon on a panel for the film with human rights leaders Wade Henderson and Julie Fernandes. Panelists stressed the great necessity of today's abolitionist movement. They called for creative and collaborative solutions to end modern-day slavery.
Throughout the discussion, Haugen and the other panelists emphasized the need for perseverance in the face of an intimidating and powerful criminal trafficking industry. "If you spend time with traffickers, you realize how committed they are," Haugen said, speaking from his years of traveling to IJM's field offices to investigate and free people from slavery. He added, "This will be a struggle of who is more committed."
In closing, Haugen charged the audience to consider the "hope of history," referencing President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s heroic efforts to bring true freedom to all Americans. "We are invited to struggle to that point of clarity that motivates action and sustains committed action," he said. "We are invited to that historic work of bending the moral arc toward justice."
Haugen was first recognized by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in June as one of ten 2012 TIP Report Heroes—the highest honor given by the State Department for achievements in combating slavery and human trafficking.