Embrey Human Rights Program’s efforts to honor a long-neglected Holocaust site near Lublin, Poland, spurs a journalist and community leader to ensure the place is respected by locals.

Storify

Originally Posted: January 3, 2016

Sign of Change for Holocaust Remembrance in Poland

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Dr. Vicki Hill, Assistant Dean for University Curriculum at SMU, recently assisted Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin in leading 30 members of the SMU/DFW community on the program’s annual Holocaust study trip to Poland. The unique immersive two-week experience — this year marking its 20th anniversary — takes participants to more than a dozen concentration-labor-death camps that existed during the country’s Nazi occupation in World War II (1939-1945). READ MORE

Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

SMU News

Originally Posted: December 11, 2015

As tribute to 30 years of teaching at SMU and five-plus decades of social activism, the Dallas Peace & Justice Center has awarded Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

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During his acceptance speech at a celebration dinner Dec. 3, Halperin turned the spotlight from himself to others, asking 10 SMU students in attendance to stand. “I want to show you the face of the future,” Halperin said of the human rights majors and minors. “This is what hope looks like.”

Since joining SMU in 1985, the popular teacher has taught an estimated 5,000 students in history courses, as well as human rights classes that began in 1990.

Philanthropist sisters and SMU alumnae Lauren and Gayle Embrey were inspired to fund the Embrey Human Rights Program in 2006, with Halperin at the helm, after Lauren took one of Halperin’s master’s-level human rights classes and a Holocaust study trip he led to Poland. (Halperin has been offering the immersive trip to the SMU community since 1996.)

Over the last nine years the Embrey Human Rights Program has hosted numerous eye-opening public events devoted to issues of social justice. It also has sponsored travel opportunities that regularly introduce students to struggling countries ranging from Rwanda to Cambodia — and this summer led a 10-day American West trip to address past and present struggles faced by our own nation’s “too often-forgotten indigenous people.”

The program also has continually developed a compelling mix of human rights courses. An expansion of interdisciplinary classes allowed SMU to begin offering a human rights minor in 2007, followed by a Master of Liberal Studies degree in Human Rights and Social Justice two years later.

In the year ahead (2016), the Embrey Human Rights Program will celebrate its tenth year and 20th anniversary for Halperin-guided trips to Poland.

But for Halperin, here’s the biggest accomplishment: SMU is the only university in the South – and one of just seven in the U.S. – to offer an undergraduate degree in human rights.

Since SMU first began offering a bachelor of arts in human rights in 2012, about 50 students have earned the degree, one allowing them to recognize and resolve vital human rights issues in fields ranging from international law to medicine. Increasingly, more SMU students are eager to follow suit: Nearly two dozen are expected to earn the degree in May 2016.

Beyond his work at SMU, Halperin has held numerous leadership positions in human rights and social justice organizations. During his more than 40-year affiliation with Amnesty International USA, he has served as chair of its board of directors three times. He also has served on the boards of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the Center for Survivors of Torture, the International Rescue Committee and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He has participated in a U.N. human rights delegation that inspected Irish prison conditions in Dublin and Belfast as well as in delegations monitoring human rights in El Salvador and Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza.

Halperin holds a Ph.D. in Southern U.S. history from Auburn University; a M.A. in Southern U.S. history from Southern Methodist University; and a B.A. in U.S. history from George Washington University. READ MORE

Embrey Human Rights Program Director honored for human rights work

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: December 2, 2015

Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights program, is being recognized by the Dallas Peace and Justice Center on Thursday, Dec. 3 at the Annual Peace and Justice Maker Awards Dinner. He will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work defending people’s rights to dignity and life by opposing torture and the death penalty.

Halperin is “a recognized international authority on the death penalty, genocide, slavery, human trafficking, torture and human rights,” according to the SMU website. He has also been involved with the boards of directors for organizations such as the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Center for Survivors of Torture and the International Rescue Committee.

The Annual Peace and Justice Maker Awards Dinner will be at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel on Central Expressway. Tickets to the dinner are $75 each and a sponsored table sells for $1,000. The event begins at 7 p.m. and will include dinner, live music, and auctions. READ MORE

Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights Program, receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Originally Posted: December 1, 2015

Congratulations to Rick Halperin, Director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program

Dr. Halperin will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for his Human Rights work at the Annual Peace & Justice Maker Awards Dinner on Thursday, December 3.

CVKCFY9UkAEv2t8Dr. Rick Halperin has spent his entire life defending and advocating the idea that there is no such thing as a lesser person, and that all persons, regardless of whatever they have done, still have and remain worthy of their inherent dignity and must not, for any reason, be tortured or be put to death. Rick began teaching human rights courses in 1990, and serves as the Director of the Southern Methodist University Embrey Human Rights Program. During his more than 40-year affiliation with Amnesty International USA, Rick served as chair of its board of directors three times. He has also served on the boards of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the Center for Survivors of Torture, the International Rescue Committee and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

More on the Embrey Human Rights Program

More on Rick Halperin

More on the Peace & Justice Maker Awards Dinner

Pioneers of integration emphasize education, civility at SMU

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: November 12, 2015

Four pioneers of integration gathered at Southern Methodist University on Thursday night to discuss their experiences as the first African American students on southern campuses, current race relations and the importance of education.

The panel spoke as part of the Embrey Human Rights Program, which on Thursday introduced a database of undergraduate higher education integration pioneers. The incomplete Opening Doors: Integration Research Project database still needs information about many schools. It is available at www.smu.edu/integration.

Program director Rick Halperin introduced the panel and spoke about racial tension at the University of Missouri, Yale and Ithaca College. As we hurtle toward 2016, he said the country is still fighting the struggle for human dignity. READ MORE

Embrey Human Rights Program hosts four of the first African Americans to integrate Southern colleges Nov. 12

Park Cities Blog

Originally Posted: Nov. 11, 2015

Unique Database of Integration Pioneers To Be Unveiled at Public Event

James Meredith, Vivian Malone and James Hood may be the best-known African Americans to integrate Southern colleges, but SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program will introduce four important, but lesser-known, trailblazers at a free public event at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, in Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall on the SMU campus.

“Opening Doors: An Evening With the First Integrators of Southern Universities & Colleges” also will host the unveiling of a new database of higher education integration pioneers developed through research by Embrey Human Rights students. READ MORE

Watch: Roberto Corona, EHRP, comments on a statement by Governor Greg Abbott

Roberto Corona of the Embrey Human Rights Program, comments on a Nov. 4 statement by Governor Greg Abbott that if Texas sheriffs do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, they could face loss of state grant money

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Congrats to Dedman College student Karly Zrake, first Human Rights Scholar to honor Santos Rodriguez

CBS News

Originally Posted: November 2, 2015

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – SMU has awarded the first recipient of the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship in honor of a 12-year-old whose 1973 shooting death by a Dallas police officer briefly imprisoned for the crime remains one of the nation’s most troubling civil rights incidents.

It goes to sophomore human rights and anthropology major Karly Zrake, who SMU says has been active in community service since childhood.

“I’m immensely grateful for the financial support at SMU,” says Zrake, who was raised in a single-parent household. “It’s helped me see that if you want to dedicate your life to others, there are ways to make it happen.” READ MORE

Dallas mother of Santos Rodriguez visits Seattle park named for her son

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: November 2, 2015

SEATTLE–As Bessie Rodriguez visited this Pacific Northwest city on Monday, her son Santos was memorialized as everyone’s child — some 42 years after his Dallas death.

Remember his tomorrows in each day, said Seattle’s civic poet Claudia Castro Luna, as his mother gazed up at her in a crowded former schoolhouse here. READ MORE

Embrey Human Rights Program names first scholar, Karly Zrake, to honor Santos Rodriguez

SMU HUMAN RIGHTS NAMES FIRST SCHOLAR TO HONOR SLAIN BOY, HELPS HIS MOTHER ATTEND NOV. 2 SEATTLE TRIBUTE

Sophomore human rights and anthropology major Karly Zrake, active in community service since childhood, is SMU’s first recipient of the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship in honor of a 12-year-old whose 1973 shooting death by a Dallas police officer briefly imprisoned for the crime remains one of the nation’s most troubling civil rights incidents.

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The endowed scholarship, funded by Dallas’ Latino Center for Leadership Development in partnership with the Embrey Human Rights Program, will help Zrake and future students earn an undergraduate degree in human rights at SMU. And as they celebrate the award to Zrake, the Embrey program also is helping Santos’ mother, Bessie Rodriguez, attend a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) tribute to her son in Seattle on Monday, Nov. 2.

Karly’s passion for human rights will help drive positive change in our society, which is the goal of this scholarship – to educate people while honoring the memory of Santos,” says Dallas businessman and SMU alumnus Jorge Baldor ’93, who launched the Latino CLD in March with Miguel Solis, Dallas ISD school board vice president.

“As the scholarship’s first recipient, Karly will be an ambassador for human rights education at SMU, which is one of only seven universities in the country to offer such a program,” says Bradley Klein, assistant director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “She’ll have many opportunities to create dialogue on racial, economic, gender and cultural differences.”

Since joining SMU in 2014, Zrake has been a Dedman Scholar, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average while working part-time for the Embrey Human Rights Program, assisting Roberto Corona with Latino community outreach initiatives and helping coordinate the program’s first 10-day study trip in June focused on past and present human rights struggles of Native Americans.

Zrake plans “to enlighten others about Santos’ story, especially those in my generation who may not know about the tragedy,” she says. “My hope is for his name to live on and be associated with change and justice.”

SANTOS’ DEATH

Santos and his 13-year-old brother, David, were illegally taken from their Dallas home July 24, 1973, handcuffed, and put in a police car. In an effort to elicit information on a recent burglary of less than $10 from a soft-drink machine, one of the officers in the car placed a revolver against Santos’ head and killed the boy in a forced game of Russian roulette. Physical evidence discovered at the burglary site supported the brothers’ innocence.

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The incident sparked national public outcry and led to the only race riot in Dallas history. Officer Darrell Cain was sentenced to five years in prison, but released after half that time. In 2013 – 40 years after the incident – Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued an official apology on behalf of the city of Dallas to the Rodriguez family.

ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIP

To create the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship, the Latino CLD pledged $100,000 to be used in a 2:1 challenge grant, with a goal of raising $300,000 by Dec. 31, 2016. Once the endowment is funded, it will offer $10,000 in annual scholarship support to a SMU human rights major.

After the scholarship was announced this spring, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings became the first private donor to contribute to the fund, offering a personal check of $10,000.

The scholarship is operating with the approval of the Rodriguez family. Santos’ mother, Bessie, is advising the campaign, and supports Zrake’s eagerness to work on behalf of her son’s memory.

“Karly, one of the first scholarship applicants, showed us how moved she was by Santos’ story,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. “She showed us how compelled she is to channel her energy and creativity into shedding light on injustice and helping communities and families wounded by it. She’s a great representative of this scholarship, for the program and the family. Everyone who meets her can tell she really wants to make a difference in the world.”

Zrake has been helping others since second grade, when, inspired by her mother’s volunteer work, she started a program to help special-needs students. By eighth grade, she was working with the Music Therapy Center of California, raising money to help send special-needs students to summer camps dedicated to improving students’ social and fine motor skills. In high school she promoted anti-bullying efforts and organized student visits to a senior living facility, where one event included a prom.

“I’m immensely grateful for the financial support at SMU,” says Zrake, who was raised in a single-parent household. “It’s helped me see that if you want to dedicate your life to others, there are ways to make it happen.”

Learn More & Give

To find out more about the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship campaign and learn how to contribute, visit http://www.smu.edu/dedman/giving/santosrodriguezscholarship.