Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tennessee Celebration of Human Rights Day to Honor Human Rights Leaders

Human Rights Day in Tennessee has become a time to celebrate the leaders of yesterday and recognize those taking up the torch for tomorrow, 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 will take place at the First Amendment Center from 5:00-7:00pm. The event is free and open to the public.

The event centers on the Human Rights Lifetime Achievement awards.   Awardees in this category are 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 will pay them special tribute during the celebration.

“Rising Advocate” awards will also be 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 will go to Eben Cathey with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and Daynise Joseph with Organized Neighbors of Edgehill.

The Committee has also created a new award this year: the Outstanding Service for Human Rights Award. Recipients of this honor include 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.

There will be a musical performance by Divine Praise Ensemble, human rights agencies will have information booths outside of the event hall, and special proclamations from the Mayor of Nashville and Governor of Tennessee proclaiming Human Rights Day.

The committee organizing the event for Human Rights Day includes the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, Metro Human Relations Commission, Church of Scientology and Muslim Women’s Council.   For more information or to become involved, visit

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