Hope College will host four events on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, to help build awareness of the problem of human sex trafficking.
The activities will begin with three addresses by John Cotton Richmond, a federal prosecutor who serves as the special litigation counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. Richmond will deliver the lecture “Human Trafficking: Deconstructing Myths and Understanding Victims” on Monday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall. He will also present “The Cost of Not Seeking Justice” during the college’s Gathering worship service on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m., and “Know Your Name” during the college’s Chapel service on Monday, Feb. 1, at 10:30 a.m., both in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. The lecture and both worship services are free and open to the public.
The non-profit group Songs Against Slavery, in partnership with Hope, will present a benefit concert on behalf of The Manasseh Project and talk on Monday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Live music will be provided by Hope College alumni, and guest speaker Malynda Hughes will share her story of surviving sex trafficking and how she became a thriving author, advocate and public speaker.
Tickets for the concert are $15 for the general public and $10 for Hope students and members of the college’s faculty and staff, and can be purchased at the ticket office in the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center at 100 E. Eighth St. The Events and Conferences Office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890. Tickets are also available online at hope.edu/tickets.
As explained by Songs Against Slavery, experts estimate that at least 100,000 children are trafficked in the United States every year, a statistic that doesn’t include the thousands of adults who are trafficked every day. According to the organization, cities in Michigan with the most calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center include Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Mackinac Island.
The Manasseh Project (manassehproject.org) is an outreach ministry of Wedgwood Christian Services dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of young men and young women in West Michigan. The Manasseh Project provides community education, collaboration and specialized residential treatment services for victims of sex trafficking.
Songs Against Slavery (songsagainstslavery.org) fights against sex trafficking in the United States by raising money and awareness through benefit concerts, and since being started in 2011 by two college freshmen has run 18 benefit concerts in five states raising more than $80,000.
The four presentations at Hope are being co-sponsored by the college’s Campus Ministries program and Women’s and Gender Studies program.
Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street. Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.