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Fighting For Freedom

Fighting For FreedomTuftsgraduate Tommy Calvert Jr.’s involvement in abolitionistefforts have helped free slaves and raise awareness of modern-dayslavery around the world.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.26.05] For many people, slavery is a topic relegated to thehistory textbooks. But the problem of human slavery is still verycurrent. Inspired to get involved in antislavery issues whilean undergraduate at Tufts, Tommy Calvert Jr. has dedicated hislife to freeing slaves around the world and working to alleviatethe scourge of slavery.

"Fightas if the future is at stake – because it is," Calvertsaid at a recent community event in his native San Antonio, Texas,according to the San Antonio Express-News.

While at Tufts,Calvert attended a 1999 event where he heard former Mauritanianslave Moctar Teyeb and Dr. Charles Jacobs, founder of the AmericanAnti-Slavery Group (AASG). The experience was transformative.

Calvert beganworking closely with the Boston-based AASG, which eventually hiredhim after his graduation with a degree in internationalrelations in 2002. Before his hiring, he ran his own consultingfirm in San Antonio.

As the group’schief of external operations, he freed slaves around the world– including6,000 in Sudan – and at home while investigating claimsof slavery in countries like Thailand and Burma. Calvert helpedwrite the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act,

Another majoraccomplishment of Calvert’s was persuading the TIAA-CREFpension fund to divest its shares in Talisman Energy, a companytied to slave raids in Sudan.

"TommyCalvert is an extraordinary person," Jacobs told the Express-News."He's brave, risking his life and being witness to the redemptionof slaves."

Few Americans,Calvert believes, are aware of the scope of the slavery that stillexists around the globe – and even in their own country– today.

“Slaveryis the second-leading crime in the world, exceeding the drug andarms trade in the next 10 years,” he told the Express-News.“Think of it, the profit margin is as high as 800 percent.”Contrary to the associations most people hold between Africa andslave markets, Calvert added, many of today’s slaves areheld in South Asia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. ButCalvert has also been involved with cases in Boston.

With MartinLuther King Jr. Day having recently passed, the lessons of slaverybecome more readily apparent.

“Itwas King who understood the community as a global house,"Calvert explained to the newspaper.

He recentlyleft the AASG to return home to San Antonio and prepare to applyto business and law schools and resume consulting.

Calvert alsosits as a founding board member with UnitedLeaders, a nonprofit focused on encouraging young people’sinvolvement in politics that was founded by twoTufts graduates.

Calvert’sbold path in life is no surprise to some.

"My dadjokes that I was a special kid because I didn't want to watch'Mighty Mouse.' I wanted to watch 'CNN Headline News' instead,"he told the Express-News. Fighting against world slavery,he says, “goes to my DNA.”

 

 

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