Rather than speaking out against slavery, local students are rocking out to show their support. "When our club heard that 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the U.S. for slavery each year, we felt we had to do something," said Rena Stern, the co-president of the Teen Political Activist Coalition (T-PAC) at Milken Community High School. For the 16-year-old activist, that something was organizing a benefit rock concert to raise money for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), the only nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to assisting those trafficked for forced labor and slavery-like practices. The musical evening will support the Southland-based advocacy group, which provides social and legal services and training programs for survivors.
Stern and Miri Cypers, both juniors at Milken, founded T-PAC during their freshman year.
"All the other clubs on campus were mainly concerned with improving the school or immediate community," Stern said. "We wanted to start a group which used political action to improve the world at large."
Since that time, the group has written letters to free political prisoners and educate fellow students. When Stern read a newspaper article about a young woman enslaved as a domestic worker in Palos Verdes, she brought the heartbreaking story to the attention of the club.
Hoping to lure supporters with the sound of music, the T-PAC is holding a benefit concert on May 10 at the Key Club in West Hollywood, featuring several local bands, including The Waking Hours, The Anthem, Addison and Say Anything. In addition, CAST staff will speak about the organization's work and answer questions about trafficking in human beings. T-PAC hopes to raise funds for this often overlooked abuse and ultimately help eliminate slavery.
"As Jews, we were once slaves ourselves," Stern said. "It's not right that now that we have freedom, we are not using this to help other people in our own cities who are still enslaved."
Concert tickets can be purchased for $12 through the Key Club, (310) 274-5800, or Ticketmaster, (213) 480-3232. For more information about the concert and sponsorship opportunities, e-mail Sbrous@mchschool.org . Tax-deductible contributions, can be written out to LTSC-CAST and sent to CAST, 5042 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 586, Los Angeles, CA 90036.