From the moment he was born, Jimmy Briggs had a lot going for him. A solid family, faith rooted in the Southern Baptist tradition, and powerful women who loved him and expected him to be good, and to be successful.
“My mother, my grandmother and great-grandmother challenged me to carry myself with dignity and love.”
He was also one of the few African-American students in his predominantly white Missouri community. He endured a lot of taunting and racial epithets which would influence his work years later when he worked at Life Magazine writing stories on children in crisis, gang culture and the impact of urban violence on innocent children.
“I recognized where my heart was focused--on the lives of the voiceless and people who are not always respected.”
His career took him to war zones where children were turned into hardened soldiers and where violence against women and girls was brutal and commonplace.
“I internalized some of the worst stories imaginable. It had taken a toll on my soul.”
It also compelled Jimmy to ask himself “What can I do with my life?” The answer that came to him was Man Up.
Worldwide, the leading cause of death and disability for women between fifteen and forty-four is violence. Nearly 500,000 women were raped in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide alone. One in 5 college girls in the United States reports being sexually assaulted. And, globally, one out of three girls reports being sexually abused.
Jimmie founded the Man Up Campaign in 2009 as a global initiative to stop violence against girls and women.
“Man Up is a youth-led movement,” says Jimmy, “because we’re talking about a cultural change. We’re talking about how men define what it means to be a man.”
Gender-based violence is a complex set of destructive, primarily male behaviors that include psychological and emotional abuse, forced marriage, son preference, honor killings, sexual harassment, trafficking, and violence against women in armed conflict.
Man Up uses a S.M.A.R.T approach to addressing such violence; that is, engaging youth in sports, music, arts, reflection and technology.
The Campaign partners with young men and women around the world by providing innovative training, resources and support to youth-informed initiatives. This partnership works to build a network of young champions and defenders, of gender equality, gender inclusiveness and opportunity linking their efforts to those of community based and mainstream organizations, entertainment and sports communities, non-profits and corporations towards a common cause.
Jimmy’s stake in the enduring success of Man Up is deeply personal because he is striving to create a world that is safe for all women and girls, including his own daughter.
“Sometimes when you see something wrong in the world, you can’t look away—sometimes you have to stand up…and in Jimmy’s words “Man Up.”