A Nebraska history teacher’s mission to eradicate modern day slavery will bring him to and through DeKalb Tuesday. Barry Jurgensen’s Walk Forever Free journey traces the known route of two teenage girls, Eliza and Celia, who escaped their slave master in Nebraska City, NE and found freedom in Chicago in 1858. In true Underground Railroad fashion, Barry’s success depends on the organization and kindness of strangers in the counties he crosses and the communities he visits.
Jurgensen started his journey in Nebraska City on June 1 and will be walking from Rochelle to DeKalb along Route 38 beginning at 8 a.m on Tuesday, June 28. He said he travels about 3 miles an hour and plans to arrive in DeKalb about 4 p.m. Walkers are encouraged to join in his Walk Forever Free journey for as long as they like on that or any day.
During a 7 p.m. Tuesday presentation at the corner of First Street and Lincoln Highway in downtown DeKalb, Jurgensen will speak of his journey and the issues of slavery, past and present. All are welcome to attend to meet Jurgensen and learn more about his fight against modern day slavery, often referred to as human trafficking, especially when it comes to children.
He will spend the night at the home of DeKalb residents Sonja Herington and Steve Koch, where he was invited after Herington learned of his mission.
Being an Iowa native, he had a lot of support in that state, but once he got to Illinois word started to spread and people began opening their hearts and doors to Jurgensen. After DeKalb, he will continue on Route 38 to Geneva. Another friend of his newest supporters will open their home to him on Wednesday. He is hoping to find a place to stay in Wheaton on Thursday and for the rest of his journey which ends in Chicago on July 2.
In addition to raising awareness, Jurgensen is raising money to be donated to the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (fdfi.org), dedicated to “advancing freedom through knowledge and strategic action.” His goal is to raise $50 per mile. The FDFI provides prevention education for young people, assists teachers to identify victims, perpetrators and the signs of human trafficking, and helps initiate and strengthen community relationships critical to successfully addressing this mounting problem.
For more information about his Tuesday visit in DeKalb contact Sonja Herington, 815-762- 2823, Sonja.email@example.com or Kathy Guyer, 815-980- 8885, GuyerKLG@yahoo.com.
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