More than 200 activists came together on June 10 for the Enough Project’s Act Against Atrocities Advocacy Day, in conjunction with One Million Bones. Following the national installation of the large-scale social arts project One Million Bones,participants from 32 states and the District of Columbia held 94 meetings with elected officials in the House of Representatives and the Senate to urge the government to end the genocide and mass atrocities taking place in Congo and the Sudans.
Participants included seasoned activists, college undergraduates, some for whom this was their first time doing advocacy, and even a group of middle school students who traveled from New Jersey to meet with Senator Menendez’s staff. The participants asked their Members of Congress to co-sponsor H. Res. 131 in the House and S. Res. 144 in the Senate, two companion pieces of legislation outlining steps to work towards peace in Congo. Constituents additionally asked Members in the House to co-sponsor H. R. 1692 for peace in the Sudans, and asked Members in the Senate to sign onto a letter urging the Obama administration to take action to end atrocities.
The advocates’ day began with a morning-long training conducted by Enough Project staff at the Washington Court Hotel. Raise Hope for Congo Campaign Manager JD Stier kicked off the day with an enthusiastic introduction to the staff. From there, the participants heard lessons from an experienced activist, were taught the fundamentals of how to conduct a typical congressional meeting, and discussed how to build a relationship through follow up with an office.
Enough Project Executive Director John Bradshaw concluded training by introducing Representative Jim McGovern (MA-02), who shared his personal experience visiting with conflict-affected persons in Sudan. He related how constituent stories can really impact a Member of Congress. Congressman McGovern applauded the initiative of all the participants to converge on Capitol Hill to prevent atrocities, and emphasized how their message to the Members would have a lasting impression.
Since the event, New Mexico’s Senator Heinrich and Virginia’s Senator Kaine signed on to Senator Coons’ atrocity prevention letter to President Obama. Activists reported bipartisan, promising responses from the offices, and welcomed the opportunity to continue promoting action against atrocities through the new relationships developed.
Photo: Representative Jim McGovern at Act Against Atrocities Day (Enough Project).