This post originally appeared on Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
"We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world."
Last night 25 individuals were awarded the Freedom from Fear Award in Seattle at the National Immigrant Integration Conference. Contrary to news coverage we see day after day, these awards, sponsored by Public Interest Projects (PIP) show us courageous individuals who, to each their own capacity, are standing up to and fighting injustice.
The quote above by Howard Zinn exemplifies the meaning behind the Freedom from Fear Award. The award honors "ordinary people who have committed extraordinary acts of courage on behalf of immigrants and refugees - individuals who have taken a risk, set an example, and inspired others to awareness or action."
For many people, it would be easy to give up in the face of injustice-to simply accept that life, as an immigrant or immigration reform advocate, will forever be a challenge. But these award winners truly persevered through trial: violence, slander, legal battles, sexual abuse, and fear of deportation. Despite these hardships, they were able to reverse unfair policies, collect disputed wages, demand protection for marginalized populations around them, and help others stand up for immigrants. These individuals are just the tip of the iceberg: while there were only 15 awards distributed (a few awards were given to multiple people), there were 380 nominations from 42 different states.
We applaud everyone who is helping bring our country closer to comprehensive immigration reform. Please, read these stories, and be encouraged that change is indeed possible. Sometimes it just takes a little freedom from fear.
James Colten is the campaigns assistant at Sojourners.