Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has proclaimed December 10th Human Rights Day in Tennessee and is encouraging all citizens to join in observing the day.
The celebration of International Human Rights Day in Tennessee has become a time to look at battles won and lessons learned as well as to inspire the youth of today to do something about the state of the world tomorrow. It occurs each year on December 10th, and this year the celebration took place at the First Amendment Center.
A proclamation was released by Governor Bill Haslam which states in part, “Whereas, respect for basic human rights is important in fostering human dignity and freedom… Now, therefore, I, Bill Haslam, Governor of the State of Tennessee, do hereby proclaim December 10, 2014 as Human Rights Day in Tennessee and encourage all citizens to join me in this worthy observance.”
The Tennessee celebration centered on the Human Rights Lifetime Achievement awards. Awardees in this category were Father Joseph Breen, formerly of St. Edward Church who is known widely for his work to strike down the 2009 “English Only” proposition in Nashville; and First Baptist Church Capitol Hill which has long served as a beacon for the civil rights movement. In 2008, Mr. John Seigenthaler was a recipient of this award and in 2012, Mr. George Barrett received the honor. In this year of their passing, the Human Rights Day celebration paid them special tribute during the celebration.
“Rising Advocate” awards were given to individuals who are in the early stages of their human rights work and show great promise for the future. Planning committee chair Rev. Brian Fesler says, “This is how we recognize and encourage the leaders of tomorrow.” Rising Advocate awards this year went to Eben Cathey with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and Daynise Joseph with Organized Neighbors of Edgehill.
This year marked the inauguration of a new award: the Outstanding Service for Human Rights Award. Recipients of this honor included Yuri Cunza with the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Avi Poster who has championed immigrant rights, fair housing and the reduction of poverty for years.
The committee organizing the event for Human Rights Day included the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, Metro Human Relations Commission, Church of Scientology and Muslim Women’s Council. For more information, visit www.nashvillehumanrights.org.