Human trafficking survivor, advocate shares story

MARTIN, Tenn. — A human trafficking survivor and advocate for criminal justice reform shared her story.

“This a very unique conference because it’s one of two of its kind in the United States,” said¬†Anthony Prewitt,¬†Interim Director of Student Lief and Multicultural Affairs.

The University of Tennessee at Martin hosted it’s 22nd annual Civil Rights Conference.

“We try to make sure that we provide different types of perspective and viewpoints for our students,” Prewitt said.

Prewitt says these types of conferences helps the students.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students to get engaged and see something that a lot of them probably engaged with on social media and actually see a tangible person and hear their story,” Prewitt said.

And it also helps the community.

“It’s important to have different types of perspectives in different topics, specifically to allow for engaging conversations because of the beauty of conferences such as this is the dialogue that occurs before and after,” Prewitt said.

This year’s keynote speaker was Cyntoia Brown Long.

She was convicted of aggravated robbery and first-degree murder when she was 16, and was granted clemency by former Gov. Bill Haslam, calling her circumstance a tragic and complex case.

She’s now an advocate for criminal justice reform and calls for an end to end human trafficking.

“For so long, people have suffered in silence. When I was incarcerated, when I was being trafficked, when I was going through everything I went through, I felt like I really didn’t really have a voice. I really didn’t see anyone out there really advocating and speaking to my experience. So it’s important for me to really be that voice and speak on those experiences so other people know they’re not alone in it,” Long said.

She also says she is thankful to be able to an impact in other people’s lives.

“There are so many stories that are like mine, and it feels good to feel that I finally have that voice, and I’m giving a voice to people who are so often not heard from. So it’s a really great opportunity,” Long said.

If you would like to learn more about the month-long conference and other speakers who will be participating, click here.

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