From Virginia to Buffalo: 902 Miles to “FreeThem”!

pictured / Walking To FreeTHEM l /r -Julius Land, Sadi Fleischer, Jamil Crews, Kimera Lattimore, Chartrell Bonner, Kelly Diane Galloway, Christina Bishop, Lala Woods, Drea d’Nur  (Blanc Photographie)

After a year long postponement of the walk due to the pandemic, Kelly Diane Galloway founder of Project Mona’s House and The FreeTHEM Center along with a select group of her close-knit and purpose driven friends all born and raised in Buffalo NY, finally  set forth on one of the most monumental awareness acts in America to end human trafficking.

On Saturday May 1  City Officials,  and the Mayor along with family  friends and supporters gathered for a rally to send off  he FreeTHEM Walkers for the first ever initiative of its kind now nationally known as The FreeTHEM WALK              

The walk is founder Kelly Diane Galloway’s mission to put an end modern-day slavery and  raise world wide awareness about the crime of human trafficking.        

Her goal is to  raise $1million to continue the much needed expansion of  the FreeTHEM Center space for at risk women and children in WNY,  as well as for  Project Mona’s House,  making it the largest restorative home for victims in the country located here in the City of Buffalo!  

During last Saturday’s rally Galloway said she is answering a divine call to fulfill a need. She currently has over 72 women in Project Mona’s independent living program and countless women and children accessing TheFreeTHEM center for counseling.    “Human trafficking is modern day slavery… it’s the second largest crime on the planet. We have to care about it!  It doesn’t just happen overseas it happens right in our own back yards!” she said. 

The rally speakers included comments of support from Mayor Byron Brown, Council  President  Darius Pridgen, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples Stokes and others as well as powerful uplifting prayers and song to send them on a successful journey.    

  The group embarked on their 902 mile journey on foot May 3 from Lynchburg, Virginia and for the next 52 days they will be walking  30 miles per day.  They will follow the trail of the Underground Railroad that freedom seekers of the past like Harriett Tubman, Henry Box Brown and others traveled to freedom.  From their starting point where the Civil War ended in Appomattox Virginia, they plan to make significant stops at noted landmarks along the journey including  a special location for Galloway, The Fauquier History Museum at the Jail & the Plains  in Warrenton. That was  the last place she has been able to trace her family and former enslaved persons to.  

They are  set to arrive in Buffalo on June 19  in our African American Heritage Corridor during this years Annual Juneteenth event,  marking the milestone of their completed walk to FreeTHEM in conjunction with the   annual celebration of  the end of enslavement. On June 20th there will be a final close to the Juneteenth weekned  held at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. More details on that to be announced.

To learn more about theFreeTHEM walkers and for more info on how to support, go to thefreethemwalk.com  and @thefreethemwalkusa on social media! 

  -staff writer