My great friend and colleague, former slave from Sudan and now a leading figure in the fight for freedom and against jihad, Simon Deng, commences his Sudan Freedom Walk tomorrow.
I was with Simon on his first Freedom Walk (more here.) The first walk happened in 2006. It started at the United Nations then, and so it begins tomorrow. Last time we watched with Manute Bol. I interviewed him here. We have since lost that great man.
Simon Deng, a member of the Shilluk tribe from Southern Sudan as a Christian, was persecuted during the Civil War era between the Muslims and Christians in Sudan. Simon was taken as a youth and enslaved by Northern Arab Sudanese during the conflict. Having the fortitude and good fortune to escape, Simon eventually became the national long-distance swimming champion in Sudan and immigrated to the United States in 1990, settling in New York City where he still resides, serving as lieutenant lifeguard at Coney Island.
Despite the great personal anguish of reliving the horrors of his childhood, Simon began telling his personal story in 1998, after reading an article in the New York Times about slaves still being bought and sold in Sudan for $10. In the spring of 2006, Simon partnered with recently deceased basketball star and Sudanese icon Manute Bol as well as New York-based activist David Bredhoff to create and lead the first Sudan Freedom Walk from New York City to Washington, D.C. The Freedom Walk achieved the passage of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2005 and garnered the participation of major political forces such as President George W. Bush as well as Senators Hillary Clinton, Sam Brownback, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representatives Barbara Lee, Joseph Crowley, Betty McCollum, Chris Van Hollen, and former Washington, D.C. Mayor Reverend Walter Fauntroy.
Pursuant to the 2004 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Southern Sudan will vote in a referendum in January, 2011 to decide whether or not to secede from the North. With this imminent critical juncture in mind, and the necessity of ensuring compliance to the 2004 agreement for peace to remain in Sudan, Simon knew he had to do something again. His old partner David Bredhoff, having returned from the Peace Corps in Mozambique proposed replicating the first walk, and doing so in coordination with a Darfuri-led organization to demonstrate a symbolic unity between Southern Sudanese and Darfuri refugees in their fight for justice in their homeland. The deeply commited, Philadelphia-based Darfur Human Rights Organization of the USA (DHRO) provided the a perfect partner for Simon and David. DHRO is led by distinguished Darfuri leader Dr. Abdel Gabar Adam, who walked over 100 miles in the first freedom walk and galvanized Sudanese support along the East Coast.
The focus of The Sudan Freedom Walk 2010 is to fight for democracy and freedom from genocide and slavery throughout Sudan.
Each day of walking will begin at 10am at the destinations listed on the route below. The opening rally on September 15th at the United Nations will start at 12pm and the walk will begin at 1pm.Schedule:
September 15 – Rally at United Nations, New York City, Walk to Fort Lee, NJ (10 miles)
September 16 – Fort Lee to Hoboken, NJ (9 miles)
September 17 – Hoboken to Newark (14 miles)
September 18 – Newark to Rahway (10 miles)
September 19 – Rahway to New Brunswick (11 miles)
September 20 – New Brunswick to Princeton (15 miles)
September 21 – Princeton to Trenton (11 miles)
September 22 – Trenton to Langhorne, PA (17 miles)
September 23 – Event with Newton Friends School, Langhorne, PA�
September 24 – Langhorne PA to Philadelphia, PA (20 miles)
September 25 – Rally in Philadelphia and event with Drexel University
September 26 – Philadelphia to Swarthmore (11 miles)
September 27 – Swarthmore to Wilmington (17 miles)
September 28 – Wimington to Newark (13 miles)
September 29 – Newark to Elkton (8 miles)
September 30 – Elkton to Havre De Grace (16 miles)
October 1 – Havre De Grace to Bel Air(15 miles)
October 2 – Bel Air to Parkville (17 miles)
October 3 – Parkville to Baltimore (7 miles)
October 4 – Baltimore to Laurel (19 miles)
October 5 – College Park to Washington (10 miles)
October 6 – Meetings with Federal Representatives
October 7 – Rally on Capitol Hill, Washington DC
Day 1: New York City
Begin @ Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
885 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10017-2201
West on 47th Street to 7th Avenue
North on 7th Ave. to Central Park
Walk North in Central Park until exit at 7th Avenue