Tag: human rights

Lawrence hosts 25th annual community celebration of MLK’s life, legacy

Although Lawrence University classes won’t be held Jan. 18 on the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., more than 300 students will make it “a day on, not a day off” by engaging in 18 community service projects.

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Lawrence students have embraced the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a day of community engagement and service.

Lawrentians will spend part of their day volunteering their time and talents on activities ranging from painting a rock climbing wall at Appleton’s Edison Elementary School to leading interactive projects that incorporate themes of equality, advocacy and the civil rights movement at the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley.

Highlighting the day will be the community celebration of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King at 6:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The annual commemoration of King’s life and legacy is jointly presented by Lawrence University and the community organization Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities, with the support of The Post-Crescent, numerous Fox Valley organizations, churches and individuals.

Stansbury Theatre in the adjacent Music-Drama Center will be equipped with a video screen to accommodate overflow crowd should the Chapel reach capacity. The event is free and open to the public and a sign language interpreter will be present.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Breaking the Chains of Injustice.” Social justice icon, scholar and author Dr. Angela Davis will deliver the event’s keynote address.

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Dr. Angela Davis

As a student, writer, scholar and activist/organizer, Davis has devoted much of her life to social justice movements domestically and internationally. Most recently, the Birmingham, Ala., native has focused largely on social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination.

“I am looking forward to hearing Dr. Davis’ call to action for our community at the annual celebration,” said Kathy Flores, the diversity coordinator for the City of Appleton and chairperson of the MLK planning committee. “Many people forget what a radical Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was considered in his time on this earth. I am confident that Dr. Davis will inspire and challenge us to remember and embrace the true legacy of Dr. King.”

In 1970, Davis was placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” She spent 18 months in jail and on trial before being acquitted by a jury. Davis has drawn on those experiences as an author of 10 books, including 2005’s “Abolition Democracy” and 2003’s “Are Prisons Obsolete?” in which she argues for “decarceration.”

Her just released book, “Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement,” is a collection of essays, speeches and interviews highlighting the relationships among historical and contemporary state violence and oppression in the world. It will be used as the next installment in the Fox Cities’ Books Build Community series.

Davis, who studied at Brandeis University and the Sobornne in Paris, has spent the past 15 years at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she is Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and of Feminist Studies.

Her career as an educator and scholar has seen Davis teach at San Francisco State University, Mills College, University of California Berkeley, Vassar College and Stanford University, among others.

“I am confident that Dr. Davis will inspire and challenge us to remember and embrace the true legacy of Dr. King.”
— Kathy Flores, Appleton diversity coordinator

The community celebration also will recognize Tony Awofeso with the annual Jane LaChapelle McCarty Community Leader Award and Ben Vogel with the MLK Educator Award.

A former Outagamie County Board Supervisor, Awofeso is the current president of B.A.B.E.S., Inc., a child abuse prevention program, and former chair of the organization Towards Community: Unity In Diversity (the precursor to Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities). He co-founded African Heritage, Inc. and has served on the boards of the North East Wisconsin Fair Housing Council and CAP Services.

Vogel is the assistant superintendent of school/student services for the Appleton Area School District. He has been an advocate on social injustice issues pervading the school and community cultures with a focus on closing the opportunity gap between African American K-12 and white K-12 students.

Four local students winners of the annual MLK essay contest — Eliana Brenn, Sydni Wanty, Ndemazea Fonkem and Michayla Kading — will read their winning entries as part of the celebration.

The celebration will include music by Anthony Gonzalez, Lawrence student B-Lilly, members of the Lawrence Black Student Union and a spoken word performance by members of Lawrence’s Slam Poetry Club.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Congressman John Lewis, Civil Rights Activist James Zwerg to Receive Honorary Degrees at Lawrence Commencement

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the historic Voting Rights Act, Lawrence University will honor two civil rights pioneers who were instrumental in the passage of that legislation.

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Congressman John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis, an iconic figure in civil rights activism, and Appleton native James Zwerg, one of the courageous Freedom Riders of the early 1960s, will each receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees June 14 at the college’s 166th commencement. Lewis also will deliver the principal commencement address.

This will be Lewis’ third appearance at Lawrence. He first visited in April 1964 as Head Field Secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to speak at a campus-sponsored “Civil Rights Week” event. He returned in February, 2005 to deliver the university convocation “Get in the Way.”

“Becoming an engaged citizen is one of the central tenets of a liberal arts education and so we are proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of The Voting Rights Act of 1965 at this year’s commencement, which provided a path to an essential right for many people in this country,” said President Mark Burstein. “We look forward to welcoming Congressman Lewis back to campus and having Mr. Zwerg represent local participation in the events that led up to the legislative passage of The Act.”

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Congressman John Lewis spoke on the importance of student activism in the protection of human rights and civil liberties in the 2005 Lawrence convocation “Get in the Way.”

Lewis has represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since 1986. He has been at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement for more than 50 years, beginning with sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tenn., he organized as a student at Fisk University.

A participant in the 1965 march from Selma, Ala., to the capital in Montgomery, Lewis will be among a delegation of more than 90 members of Congress who will visit Alabama the weekend of March 6-8 for ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the march that became known as “Bloody Sunday” after state troopers attacked marchers on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Chronicled in the 2014 film “Selma,” the march, and its violent conclusion, galvanized the country and hastened the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year, prohibiting the denial or abridgment of the right to vote nationwide.

“Selma” was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar at last month’s Academy Awards ceremonies while “Glory” from the film’s soundtrack won the Oscar for Best Song.

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Freedom Rider James Zwerg was attacked by a mob in Montgomery, Ala., in 1961. The only white male student among the group, Zwerg stands outside the bus station after being beaten, resulting in numerous cuts, bruises and the loss of several teeth. Photo courtesy of The Montgomery Advertiser.

Lewis, whose forehead still bears a scar from Bloody Sunday, has spent his entire adult life fighting injustice and protecting human rights. While still in his early 20s, Lewis had established himself as a nationally recognized leader in the Civil Rights movement, organizing sit-ins and participating in the segregation-challenging Freedom Rides across the South.

As a 23-year old, Lewis helped organize and spoke at the historic 1963 March on Washington, in which Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Lewis is the lone surviving member among the speakers at that event.

His engagement with the Civil Rights Movement included three years (1963-66) as the chair of the SNCC. He later served as the director of the Voter Education Project, helping to add nearly four million minorities to the voter rolls. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Lewis head of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.

Lewis’ efforts and contributions toward building what he as calls “the beloved community” in America have been recognized with dozens of prestigious awards, among them the 2010 Medal of Freedom, the Martin Luther King Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the National Education Association’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award and the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage Award” for lifetime achievement.

A graduate of Fisk University and the American Baptist Theological Seminary, Lewis is the author of “Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change,” which received the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Best Literary Work-Biography and the graphic novel memoir trilogy “March.”

The first volume of “March” reached no. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list and was included on lists of the best books of 2013 by the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, The Horn Book Review, Booklist and others.

The trilogy’s second installment, which examines Lewis’ days as a Freedom Rider, was released last month.

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James Zwerg

Zwerg, who was born and raised in Appleton, became engaged in the Civil Rights Movement as a 21-year-old exchange student at Fisk University from Beloit College.

While at Fisk, Zwerg participated in lunch counter sit-ins and movie theater stand-ins in Nashville, resulting in repeated verbal abuse and physical assaults. He joined the Freedom Riders in1961 and was arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Ala., and severely beaten in Montgomery, Ala. Photos of Zwerg taken after his beating appeared in Time and Life magazines as well as newspapers around the world.

His efforts were widely chronicled in articles, television documentaries and the book “Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Rev. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference honored Zwerg in 1961 with the prestigious Freedom Award. He also has been recognized with the Church Women United, USA, Human Rights Award and the Martin-Springer Institute’s Moral Courage Award.

Zwerg graduated from Beloit College in 1962 and later earned a degree in theology at Garret Theological Seminary. Ordained a minister in the United Church of Christ, he served churches in Wisconsin until 1970 when he moved to Tucson, Ariz., to become minister of the Casas Adobes United Church of Christ.  Retired, he lives in rural New Mexico.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Social Justice Issues Examined in Student Film Festival

Issues ranging from homelessness to racial diversity will be explored in a series of short, student-produced films in Lawrence University’s first Human Rights Student Film Festival Wednesday, March 28 from 5-7 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center cinema. The festival is free and open to the public.

The films are the culminating assignment of the English department class “Literature and Human Rights,” in which each student researched a human rights or social justice topic of individual interest and then produced a short film that either advocated or analyzed that topic. Seven of the 17 films created for the class will be screened for the festival. Each film is between four and five and one-half minutes in length.

Lena Khor, assistant professor of English, team-taught the course with artist-in-residence and award-winning documentary filmmaker Catherine Tatge.

The goal of the project, according to Khor, was three-fold:  invite students to experience first-hand the aesthetic and ethical dilemmas of representing human rights and their violations; provide opportunities to creatively tell a story or make an argument in a multimedia format; and encourage engagement with various communities — Lawrence, Appleton and beyond.

“The students produced some wonderful films on important topics,” said Khor. “They  impressed me with the passion, thought and energy with which they approached this project. Considering most of them had never made a film before, they all should really be proud of their accomplishments.

“This film festival is not just a way to showcase the excellent work the students have done in this class,” Khor added. “It’s also intended to generate discussion on and off campus about social justice issues that are relevant to our everyday lives here and elsewhere.”

Lawrence’s video editor Anna Johnson Ryndova served as a technical consultant to the students on the project.

The festival films scheduled to be shown and their student producers are:

“People in Need, Changing the Face of Homeless (Austin Rohaly ’15). This film attempts to change the way in which people in need are stereotyped and offer help to organizations in need of volunteers within the Appleton area.

 “FacebΘΘk” (Fanny Lau ’14).  An exploration of Facebook’s violation of privacy and how users can protect themselves.

  “There and Back Again” (Matthew Lowe ’14). An examination of the human rights violations that occur as a result of a globalized economic system that seeks to minimize costs and maximize profits. As consumers, however, we have the power to vote with our money and our voice to make effective change.

“Speak to Me” (Conor Beaulieu ’15). ‪A look into America’s crippling lack of language diversity.

“‪Ethical Considerations in Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’” (Sam Neufeld ’15). An exploration of the ethical issues associated with Art Spiegelman’s decision to portray the Holocaust in a comic book format and the importance of form in human rights literature.

 “Let’s Talk About Race” (Tammy Tran ’14). Racial diversity on the Lawrence campus is examined while addressing the need to recognize, appreciate, and celebrate differences in the student body on a deeper level.

“Human Rights: The Next Big Thing? (Heather Carr ‘15). This film examines the fad-like quality of human rights advocacy through the lens of the organization Invisible Children.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges by Forbes, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.  Follow us on Facebook.

“Blood Diamonds” Author Discusses Progress in Sierra Leone in Human Rights Series Address

Award-winning journalist and author Greg Campbell, whose book “Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones,” inspired the 2006 Oscar-nominated, Leonardo DiCaprio film “Blood Diamond,” delivers the final lecture in Lawrence University’s month-long series “Engaging Human Rights.”

Greg Campbell

Campbell presents “Lessons Learned from Conflict Diamonds in Sierra Leone, or Opportunities Missed?” Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium. Campbell’s visit is sponsored by the Mojmir Povolny Lectureship in International Studies. Named in honor of long-time Lawrence government professor Mojmir Povolny, the lectureship promotes interest and discussion on issues of moral significance and ethical dimensions.

Based on his recent return visit to Sierra Leone, Campbell will assess the country’s progress 10 years after the end of a brutal civil war waged for control of its vast diamond reserves, including whether diamonds are a blessing or remain a national curse.

Campbell has written for The Atlantic, The Economist, Christian Science Monitor and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others.  In addition to “Blood Diamonds,” he is the author of “The Road to Kosovo: A Balkan Diary,” and “Flawless: Inside the World’s Largest Diamond Heist. His latest book, “Pot of Gold,” which examines  the exploding medical marijuana industry, is forthcoming.

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

NYC Filmmakers Discuss Their Documentaries as Part of “Engaging Human Rights” Series

New York filmmakers Pamela Yates and Paco de Onis will be on campus to discuss two of their documentaries being shown as part of Lawrence University’s month-long series “Engaging Human Rights.

On Monday, Oct. 24, following a 7 p.m. screening of the 2011 film “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator,” Yates, the film’s director and de Onis, its producer, will conduct a question-and-answer session in the Warch Campus cinema.  The pair also will discuss “The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court” on Tuesday, Oct. 25 after it is shown at 7 p.m.

Pamela Yates

Yates is a co-founder of Skylight Pictures, a company dedicated to creating films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice. Four of the films more than dozen films she has directed have been nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Paco de Onis

Paco, a partner at Skylight Pictures, previously produced documentaries for PBS and National Geographic. His eclectic background includes creating music festivals in South America and the Caribbean, renovating and operating an arts/performance theater in Miami Beach and owning a Spanish-style tapas tavern in a 500-year old colonial house in Cartagena, Colombia.

Granito,” part political thriller, part memoir follows a 40-year search for details that can be used to hold accountable those responsible for the genocide of more than 200,000 people at the hands of Guatemalan military and paramilitary soldiers. It received the “Best Creative Documentary Award” at this year’s Paris International Film Festival.

The Reckoning” explores the new International Criminal Court’s struggle to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity, including Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and Lord’s Resistance Army leaders in Uganda.  Recognized with Emmy Award nominations for Best Documentary and Outstanding Investigative Journalism, “The Reckoning” was named Best Documentary at the 2009 Politics on Film Festival in Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 56 countries.

Latin America Expert Examines Influence of Churches in Human Rights Series Presentation

The emergence of human rights as an influencing factor in international relations and the role Latin America played in that process will be examined in the second installment of Lawrence University’s month-long series “Engaging Human Rights.”

Alexander Wilde '62

Alexander Wilde, a 1962 Lawrence graduate and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., presents “The Churches and Human Rights in Latin America” Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Although human rights are founded in international law, Wilde will discuss how Christian beliefs and institutions contributed significantly to social movements that made the cause of human rights effective and how understanding why Latin American Christians were moved to action hold insights for engaging human rights today.

Wilde is spending the fall term as Lawrence’s distinguished visiting Scarff professor. During his career, he has directed the Washington Office on Latin America, an NGO concerned with human rights and U.S. foreign policy, and was an officer of the Ford Foundation. In the mid-1990s, he led the Ford Foundation’s regional office in Santiago, Chile, developing new programming in human rights and historical memory.

In addition to his position at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Wilde serves on advisory boards at the Social Science Research Council, Chilean Millennium Science Initiative and the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center.

In recent years he has advised Argentine human rights organizations and award-winning documentary films, including “State of Fear” (2005) on the work of the Peruvian Truth Commission, “The Judge and the General” (2008) on efforts to prosecute Pinochet, “The Reckoning” (2009) on the International Criminal Court, and “Granito” (2011) on the Guatemalan genocide.  He lived and worked in Chile for more than a decade during its long post-1990 transition to democracy.

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,520 students from 44 states and 56 countries.

Writer Rebecca Solnit Discusses “Hope, Disaster and Utopia” in Lawrence University Convocation

In collaboration with Green Roots’ Earth Week celebration, award-winning author and cultural historian Rebecca Solnit presents “Swimming Upstream in History: Hope, Disaster, Utopia” April 20 at 11:10 a.m. as part of Lawrence University’s 2009-10 convocation series.

Solnit’s address in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, 520 E. College Ave., will be followed by a question-and-answer session at 2 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center cinema. Both events are free and open to the public.

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Rebecca Solnit

An activist for ecological and human rights issues, Solnit is the author of 12 books, among them “Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities,” “Wanderlust: A History of Walking” and 2004’s “River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West,” a historical tour de force that has been hailed as one of the best books of the past decade.

In her most recent book, 2009’s “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster,” Solnit offers an investigation of human emotion in the face of catastrophe. She explore the common citizen responses of empathy, spontaneous altruism and mutual aid, which turn out to be more typical than the conventional perception of violence and selfishness, in the face of such disasters as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

A contributing editor at Orion Magazine, the San Francisco-based Solnit has been recognized with two National Book Critics Circle Awards and the Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction. She has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Solnit serves as contributing editor to Harper’s magazine and writes for the “London Review of Books” and the political website Tomdispatch.com.

Relationship of Human Rights and Literature Examined in Lawrence Main Hall Forum

The relationship between literature and human rights will be examined Monday, Feb. 8 in the Lawrence University Main Hall Forum “War Crimes and Representation.” The presentation, at 4:30 p.m. in Main Hall 201, is free and open to the public.

James Dawes, associate professor of English and American literature at Macalester College, discusses his work with Japanese war criminals, who participated in the 1937-38 rape of Nanking, China, in which invading Japanese troops slaughtered more than 369,000 Chinese civilians and prisoners of war and raped an estimated 80,000 women and girls.

Dawes interviewed the war criminals, who offered their confessions both as a warning and a desire to spread them in the western world before they die. His presentation will explore the importance of the confessions as part of the collective moral archive of the 20th century to create an accurate account of our time for future generations as well as how these confessions represent an impossibility in language.

The founder and director of the Program in Human Rights and Humanitarianism at Macalester, Dawes is the author of “The Language of War,” which examines the relationship between language and violence and “That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity,” a finalist in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, which chronicles the successes and failures of the modern human rights movement.