Tennessee Human Rights Day Uplifts Leaders of Tomorrow

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December 15, 2017 – The Tennessee Celebration of International Human Rights Day took place in Nashville at the First Amendment Center on December 7th with the theme “Human Rights: Our Leaders of Tomorrow.” The planning committee brought together a youth panel to discuss freedom of expression which was moderated by 2016 Human Rights Rising Advocate Justin Jones. The panel was comprised of student leaders from Lipscomb and Belmont Universities as well as the Public Art Coordinator for the Metro Arts Commission.

In addition to the youth panel, there was a spoken word performance by two members of the Tennessee State University Speech & Debate Team.

Human Rights Day is a time to acknowledge leaders who have given their lives to service, as well as those who have done outstanding work and those taking up the torch for tomorrow. Awards went to human rights champions in three categories: Rising Advocate, Outstanding Service and Lifetime Achievement.

Rising Advocate Awards went to three individuals who have made great strides for human rights and show even greater promise for the future. They were Kayo Beshir, an undergraduate student at Middle Tennessee State University who has worked on and off campus to promote human rights; Pratik Dash, who has worked both with Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition (WOMEN) and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC); and Madison White, a junior at Lipscomb University who has been actively involved in local pro bono legal clinics, and also volunteers her time with nonprofits such as Make a Wish Foundation, Second Harvest Food Bank and Free for Life International.

The award winners in the category of Outstanding Service were Jerry Redman, Co-Founder and CEO of Second Life of Tennessee which is an awareness and advocacy organization working to end human sex trafficking and Zulfat Suara, a strong advocate for minorities who is currently Chair of the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) and President Elect of the Tennessee Women Political Caucus.

The Lifetime Achievement award went to Thelma Harper, the first African-American woman State Senator of Tennessee who has a long history of service and Joey King, a Board Member for Veterans for Peace who has been active in several organizations to promote human rights, diversity and peace.

International Human Rights Day occurs every year to commemorate the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on Dec 10, 1948. A committee of human rights organizations and nonprofits, including the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, Metro Human Relations Commission, United Nations Association, UNICEF, Amnesty International, Free for Life International, Tennessee United for Human Rights, the Church of Scientology, and others, work together each year to plan the event. For more information or to see event photos, visit NashvilleHumanRights.org.

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Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson

Sarah is a financial reporter, focusing on technology, national security, and policing. Before joining Daily Telescope she worked as a staff writer at Fast Company and spent two years as a foreign correspondent in Turkey. Her work has been published in Al Jazeera America, The Nation, Vice News, Motherboard, and many other outlets.
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