Georges Bwelle, Carol Brady Houston to receive 2016 Triumph of the Spirit Awards Wednesday, Nov. 16

Rick Halperin

Georges Bwelle, Carol Brady Houston to receive 2016 Triumph of the Spirit Awards Wednesday, Nov. 16

Georges Bwelle

Georges Bwelle

African physician Georges Bwelle and special-needs children’s advocate Carol Brady Houston will receive SMU’s 2016 Triumph of the Spirit Awards during an evening of entertainment and celebration Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff.

Sponsored by the University’s Embrey Human Rights Program (EHRP), the bi-annual awards reward both an international and local humanitarian with a total of $30,000. The awards and related festivities are supported by an anonymous donor.

The “VOICES”-themed event will feature music by former Sudanese child soldier and current hip-hop peace activist Emmanuel Jal; the country-folk music of Austin-based BettySoo; spoken-word and live-action performances by Journeyman Ink; and mixed-media works created by SMU students and local professionals.

Carol Brady Houston

Carol Brady Houston

“These awards – which put a human face on the struggle for human rights – are unique to SMU and are rarely offered by higher-education institutions. We’re fortunate we’re able to help extraordinary individuals empower marginalized people in innovative ways,” says EHRP Director Rick Halperin. “The event is also designed to revitalize the spirit of the entire Dallas community as we work to build a kinder and more humanitarian city.”

Event tickets, which support human rights programming, start at $50 (via prekindle.com/triumph) and include a pre-event reception, the awards celebration, catered hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and valet parking. While they last, you may also order balcony tickets for $5 each with the promo code Balcony.

For information related to discounts for students and others, contact Sherry Aikman, 214-768-8347.

> Read more from SMU News

November 10, 2016|Calendar Highlights, News|

SMU to honor global and local human rights champions with inaugural ‘Triumph of the Spirit’ awards Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014

Eliana Elias

Eliana Elias

Peruvian champion of indigenous women’s rights Eliana Elias and global-minded local educator Bhavani Parpia will be honored at SMU Wednesday, Nov. 12 as the first two recipients of Embrey Human Rights Program Triumph of the Spirit Awards. The awards carry a combined $30,000 in funding for the recipients made possible by an anonymous supporter of SMU’s undergraduate human rights program.

The inaugural Triumph of the Spirit event will include a 7 p.m. dinner in the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom and 6 p.m. courtyard reception. The evening will feature interviews with Elias, Parpia and other human rights leaders, a mix of music and spoken-word performances and mixed-media art by past and present Embrey Human Rights Program students.

Bhavani Parpia

Bhavani Parpia

Reserved tables and individual tickets for the event are available at various sponsorship levels. For details, visit SMU’s Triumph of the Spirit ticketing page, call 214-768-3241 or contact Bradley Klein.

The Triumph of the Spirit Awards aim to “reward people doing great work for others, sometimes at great risk to themselves,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. “The awards represent a microcosm of life-changing work being done locally and around the world on issues affecting everyone. The awards also are meant to give us all hope that change can be made even by small steps of awareness and action.”

Elias and Parpia were selected for Triumph of the Spirit Awards from among several dozen human rights defenders nominated for providing selfless work on behalf of individuals and communities. The award selection committee, comprised of 19 SMU faculty and staff members, University alumni and regional community leaders and activists, chose Elias and Parpia for work best exemplifying the missions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Embrey Human Rights Program.

Global Award/$25,000 recipient: Eliana Elias

Eliana Elias has worked more than two decades in the Peruvian Amazon and other rural areas to engage and empower indigenous women and activists about their human rights.

As an expert in intercultural communications for social change, Elias has helped hundreds of non-governmental organizations and indigenous groups develop ways to strengthen leadership, education, health and conservation initiatives.

In 1998, Elias co-founded Minga Peru, an award-winning model geared to improving communication, gender equity and social change. Since then her work has been recognized and rewarded by groups including the Clinton School for Public Service in Arkansas, the Global Philanthropy Forum, Funders without Borders, Family Funders and Funders for Human Rights.

Regional Dallas Award/$5,000 recipient: Bhavani Parpia

Montessori teacher Bhavani Parpia is founder of the educational nonprofit ConnecTeach, helping underserved communities in South Asia and the Middle East improve the quality of education for hundreds of thousands of children one teacher at a time.

Parpia also serves as district world languages coordinator for the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District (HEB ISD), where she develops and oversees Arabic, Chinese and Hindi programs.

Before joining HEB ISD, Parpia founded the Primary School at North Hills Preparatory in Irving. Under her leadership, North Hills was ranked 13th-best performing school in the United States, and in 2013 she received the World Affairs Council International Educator of the Year award.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

October 9, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News|

SMU experts join KERA for Freedom Summer 50th anniversary film preview & panel discussion Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Freedom Riders Julia Aaron and David Dennis

Julia Aaron, left, and David Dennis participated in a Freedom Ride from from Montgomery, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. The Freedom Riders paved the way for Freedom Summer student volunteers. Photo credit: Paul Schutzer via ‘Freedom Riders’ c/o PBS

During the summer of 1964, more than 700 student volunteers joined with thousands of organizers and local African Americans to register new voters in Mississippi.

The violence that followed included the murders of three civil rights workers and the burning of dozens of churches, homes and community centers. Public outrage against these acts helped spur the U.S. Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In honor of Freedom Summer’s 50th anniversary, two SMU experts will join a former student activist and UNT law professor for KERA’s Freedom Summer Community Screening and Panel Discussion.

The screening and discussion take place 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, 2014 in KERA’s Community Room, 3000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas. Admission is free; advance registration is required by 5:30 p.m. on the day. For details, contact engage@kera.org.

The event – which includes a preview of the June 24 PBS show “Voices of Freedom Summer” – is sponsored by KERA and the Embrey Family Foundation/SMU Embrey Human Rights Program with support from the South Dallas Cultural Center and the Dallas Faces Race think-tank.

“The racist issues civil rights activists confronted, primarily to ensure voting rights, aren’t just in the pages of history. They’re deeply entrenched to this day, but perhaps not as overtly visible,” says SMU Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, event moderator.

Featured panelists include:

Ernie McMillan, a Dallas native and former member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Student Congress On Racial Equality (SCORE). McMillan was an integral part of Texas-based civil rights demonstrations that, although often successful, led to his imprisonment for more than three years.

Dennis Simon, SMU’s Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of political science in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and organizer of SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage, now in its 10th year.

Cheryl Brown Wattley, a University of North Texas law professor who spent more than 21 years in private practice, primarily as a criminal defense attorney and civil rights litigator. At UNT she is director of Experiential Education and teach courses in professional skills, criminal law, and professionalism.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story at SMU News

June 16, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News|

Embrey Human Rights Program seeks nominees for new award

SMU's Embrey Human Rights Program graphicSMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program will present its first Triumph of the Spirit Award and $25,000 to a person who has dedicated his or her life to social justice and human rights issues on a local, national or global scale. A related award and $5,000 will go to a human rights defender in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

“The Triumph of the Spirit Award is meant to serve as a symbol of hope in the continued struggle for human rights,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin.

Award winners must exemplify the missions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Embrey Human Rights Program, says Halperin, adding, “Often these human rights defenders are working against tremendous odds and at grave personal risk.”

The deadline to submit Triumph of the Spirit nominations is Monday, March 3. Winners will be announced Tuesday, July 1 and honored at a fall reception.

> Read more about the Triumph of the Spirit award and make a nomination online

SMU is the first university in the South and the only one west of Ohio to offer a Bachelor of Arts in human rights. Approved in 2011 by the SMU Board of Trustees, the academic degree was offered five years after the creation of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

For more details about the Triumph of the Spirit Award, contact Bradley Klein, assistant director of the Embrey Human Rights Program, 214-768-3241.

Written by Denise Gee

> Visit SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program homepage

February 13, 2014|News, Save the Date|

SMU examines the costs of capital punishment April 15-18, 2013

The Goddess of Liberty statue, Capitol Building, State of TexasAs the State of Texas draws closer to executing the 500th death row inmate since capital punishment resumed here in 1982, a multidisciplinary symposium on the SMU campus will address “Death By Numbers: What Moral, Legal and Economic Price Are We Paying to Maintain the Death Penalty?” April 15-18, 2013.

“Such a morbid milestone should make us stop and look at the record number of people being executed, the high cost of maintaining capital punishment and the increasing number of states eliminating it,” says Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, the symposium’s sponsor.

Since the modern era, nearly 40 percent of all U.S. executions have occurred in Texas. “That significant number should make us wonder why this state so eagerly embraces capital punishment, despite evidence that mistakes have been made,” Halperin says.

All symposium events are free and open to the public. They include:

April 15 — The Legal Path to Execution, noon to 1:30 p.m., 201 Florence Hall. Dedman School of Law faculty will discuss the development of the U.S. Supreme Court’s limitations on capital punishment, the trend among states to abolish the death penalty, profiles of people who have been executed and changes that a person can undergo during incarceration. Panelists will be associate professor Vicki Palacios, assistant professor Meghan Ryan and instructor/mitigation specialist Vince Gonzales.

April 17 — Capital Punishment: Theological Perspectives, 12:30 to 1:25 p.m., Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall. Faculty members from Perkins School of Theology will discuss the death penalty from the vantage points of their academic disciplines. Panelists will be Susanne Scholz, associate professor of Old Testament; Joerg Rieger, Wendland-Cook Endowed Professor of Constructive Theology; Theodore Walker Jr., associate professor of ethics and society; and Joseph Allen, Professor Emeritus of Ethics. Note: Lunch can be purchased for $5 in the Prothro Hall Refectory at 12:15 p.m.; food and beverages will be allowed in the Great Hall.

April 18 — Literary, Societal & Economic Impacts of the Death Penalty, 7 to 9 p.m., 131 Dedman Life Sciences Building. Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences professors Dick Hawkins (Sociology), Mike Holahan (English), Steve Sverdlik (Philosophy) and Beth Wheaton (Economics) will engage in a panel discussion moderated by Dallas Morning News Editorial Writer Tod Robberson.

“Lighting the Torch of Conscience” — On May 7, closer to the projected date of the 500th execution, the Embrey Human Rights Program will sponsor the “Lighting the Torch of Conscience” demonstration expected to be the largest anti-death penalty event ever held in Dallas. It will include a press conference and vigil at 6 p.m. in front of the Dallas County Old Red Courthouse, 100 S. Houston Street in downtown Dallas, where public lynchings once took place.

For more details, contact Sherry Aikman, 214-768-8347.

Written by Denise Gee

April 15, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|
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