Rick Halperin

Living the dream: SMU celebrates MLK Day 2012 all week

SMU Celebrates Dream WeekSMU celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Dream Week 2012 Jan. 16-19. Sponsored by the University’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the annual observance features a variety of activities throughout the week, including opportunities for community service and a commemorative walk.

This year’s schedule includes the traditional Day of Service Monday, Jan. 16, with volunteer projects taking place at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas LIFE and the Genesis Women’s Shelter Thrift Store.

The Dream Week kickoff event is scheduled for noon-2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Commons. Featured speakers are Dennis Simon, Political Science, and Rick Halperin, Human Rights Education.

The University’s annual Unity Walk will take place at noon Wednesday, Jan. 18, starting at the Main Quad flagpole. SMU President R. Gerald Turner will offer remarks. That evening at 7:30 p.m., the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives will present a screening of Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders in the Hughes-Trigg Forum. The award-winning documentary examines the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi in the 1950s and ’60s from the point of view of the women who lived it and helped lead it.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, the Willson Lecture Series of SMU’s Office of the Chaplain presents Daniel White Hodge speaking on “The Hostile Gospel: Seeking the Theological Sensibilities Within Hip-Hop Culture.” The lecture takes place in the Hughes-Trigg Forum followed by a brown-bag discussion at 11:30 a.m. in Hughes-Trigg Promenades A and B.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at SMU, March 17, 1966This week, SMU also recalls Dr. King’s speech to a standing-room-only crowd in McFarlin Auditorium on March 17, 1966. SMU News offers these related links:

> More information from SMU News

Law, human rights programs earn 2011 ‘Angel of Freedom’ awards

Shown representing SMU at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas’ 2011 'Angel of Freedom' awards dinner in Dallas Nov. 7 are, from left, Bill Tsutsui, dean of Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences; Rebecca Greenan, director of the Dedman School of Law’s Public Service Program; professor Jeffrey Kahn, who supervises public service externships at Dedman School of Law; and Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College.SMU’s Dedman School of Law and Embrey Human Rights Program received 2011 “Angel of Freedom” awards from the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas.

As HRI’s highest honor for people or groups committed to helping victims of human rights abuses, the awards were given during a “Thanksgiving dinner” at HRI’s headquarters near downtown Dallas Nov. 7.

HRI provides legal services to people who have suffered human rights abuses. Their clients range from people seeking asylum in the U.S. to victims of human trafficking.

The Dedman School of Law “has a long and rich history” of helping HRI since the service organization’s start in 1999, says Rebecca Garza Greenan, director of the law school’s Public Service Program. Since 1992, after a law faculty-sponsored resolution, SMU’s law students have been required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of uncompensated and not-for-credit public service.

Since 1997, SMU Dedman School of Law students have assisted HRI attorneys in their representation of clients through public service as well as paid summer internships and academic externships, currently overseen by law professor Jeffrey Kahn.

“SMU law students have had the opportunity to assist HRI attorneys in representing clients from around the world, allowing them to learn the importance of, and the fulfillment from, championing human rights one client at a time,” Greenan says. “The students are enriched and the community is helped.”

“We are proud to both support the work of HRI and to provide students to support the work and mission of HRI,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. “It is imperative that our students get involved in human rights work here in Dallas because human rights work truly begins at home.”

(Above, representing SMU at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas’ 2011 Angel of Freedom awards dinner are, from left, Bill Tsutsui, Dedman College dean; Rebecca Greenan, director of the Dedman School of Law’s Public Service Program; Professor Jeffrey Kahn, who supervises public service externships in Dedman Law; and Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College.)

> Read more about the 2011 Angel of Freedom awards from SMU News

Sobibór survivor to speak at SMU Oct. 13, 2011

Philip BialowitzOne of only eight living survivors of the infamous Nazi death camp Sobibór will speak at SMU nearly 68 years to the day after he joined a prisoner-led revolt to ultimately survive the Holocaust.

An Evening with Philip Bialowitz,” sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

“If anyone survives, bear witness to what happened here!” revolt leader Aleksandr Pechersky told 17-year-old Philip Bialowitz, his brother and a small group of prisoners before their escape from where some 250,000 people were killed between 1942 and 1943.

Sobibór was one of three camps designed purely for extermination, and only 48 people who were held captive there, including Bialowitz, lived to tell about it. The camp was one of the Nazis’ best-kept secrets – so much so that when one of its survivors spoke of it to a survivor of Auschwitz, he was reportedly told, “You have a tremendous imagination. I’ve never heard of Sobibór and especially not of Jews revolting there.”

Bialowitz, 86, wrote about his experiences in his 2010 book, A Promise at Sobibór: A Jewish Boy’s Story of Revolt and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland.

“The fact that he overcame Herculean odds to survive Sobibór and then escape from it is testament to his immense will to live,” says Embrey Program Director Rick Halperin, who takes students, staff and others to the Sobibór site each year as part of a two-week Holocaust-focused tour of Poland.

Bialowitz’ book will be sold and signed at the event. For more details, visit smu.edu/humanrights or call 214-768-8347.

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU trustees approve new Human Rights major to begin Spring 2012

SMU Embrey Human Rights Program logoSMU has become the first university in the South, and only the fifth in the country, to offer an academic major in human rights. Approved Sept. 9 by the University’s Board of Trustees, the Bachelor of Arts in human rights degree comes five years after creation of the Embrey Human Rights Program at SMU.

The undergraduate degree program officially begins in Spring 2012, but most SMU students will be allowed to apply past or current courses toward the degree, says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. The human rights major will offer two interdisciplinary tracks: one on gender and human rights, the other on public policy and human rights.

“I have always believed that if you appealed to the better nature in people, and then offered them opportunities to put their passion into practice, that this degree would be a natural,” Halperin says. “It is beyond my comprehension that programs like this do not exist throughout this country, but at least it now exists here.”

The only other U.S. universities to offer human rights majors are Bard College and Columbia University/Barnard College in New York, the University of Dayton in Ohio and Trinity College in Connecticut.

The new major is the result of Dallas philanthropist Lauren Embrey‘s travel with Halperin’s study group to Polish Holocaust sites in December 2005. Embrey, then enrolled in SMU’s Master of Liberal Arts program, returned from the trip determined to share her life-changing experience. In the six years since the trip, sisters Lauren and Gayle Embrey and the Embrey Family Foundation have committed substantial financial support for the Embrey Human Rights Program, which began in 2006, and the minor, which followed in 2007.

“The human rights major at SMU creates the ability to educate and broaden awareness, to challenge prevailing world views and to promote a rights-based society that minimizes injustice,” Lauren Embrey says. “We are also proud that the program can be seen as a model for other human rights education programs, and that it offers varied programming open to the community beyond SMU.”

The Embrey Foundation’s vision “will allow the major to be a signature program for SMU and for Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences,” says Dean William Tsutsui. “It not only will prepare students to understand human rights issues around the world, but also will equip them with the skills necessary to make a real difference and effect meaningful change,” he says. “The graduates of this important and timely new major will be the leaders of the next generation of global human rights advocates.”

So far 200 students have either formally declared the minor or are taking courses toward declaring the minor in the fastest growing program at SMU. Halperin, a nationally known human rights activist and former two-time chair of Amnesty International, says many students already have expressed interest in pursuing the new major, which will consist of 30 hours of traditional coursework, a minor in a related field and 12 hours of a foreign language.

> Read the full story from SMU News
> Visit the Embrey Human Rights Program homepage

University commemorates 9/11 anniversary with events, reflection

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, SMU will host a range of public events Sept. 7-11 to help the community find peace and meaning after that devastating day.

“Only by bringing our thoughts, feelings, prejudices and knowledge to the forefront can we resist those who would manipulate us,” says Rita Kirk, director of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, overall sponsor of the events. “How we remember the events of that day is an important ethical choice.”

Kirk will moderate the panel discussion for “The Day the Whole World Watched” on Sunday, Sept. 11.

“What happened on 9/11 was horrific, but that doesn’t get us any closer to making a better world. We have to commit ourselves to making it happen,” says Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, which will host the “Ending the Cycles of Violence” discussion on Friday, Sept. 9. “This demands peoples’ awareness and involvement in creating a new narrative based on respect, dignity, manners, tolerance and healing.”

Community members are invited to add their thoughts and memories to the Maguire Center’s online journal, 911remembered.org, where they can also scroll through entries from SMU’s original set of remembrance journals created on Sept. 11, 2001.

Above, SMU student Christina Rancke, whose father died on 9/11, shares her memories. Click the YouTube screen to watch, or open this link to see Christina Rancke’s video in a new window. video

> Find a complete schedule of events at SMU News
> Learn more at the Maguire Center’s “9/11 Remembered” site

Faculty in the News: May 19, 2011

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, discussed retired Army General and Iraq commander Ricardo Sanchez’ run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kay Bailey Hutchison with KERA Public Radio May 11, 2011. He also talked about President Obama’s efforts to resurrect and reframe the discussion on immigration for an article published in Politico May 10, 2011.

Mike Davis, Finance, Cox School of Business, talked about Texas House Bill 3790, which would suspend the back-to-school weekend tax break, with Star Newspapers May 7, 2011.

SMU archaeologist Metin ErenBill Tsutsui, dean of Dedman College and an expert on Japan, discussed that nation’s changing attitude toward nuclear power with ScienceInsider May 11, 2011.

Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program, discussed the moral and ethical side of U.S. reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden with CNN May 2, 2011.

Dennis Simon, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about former President George W. Bush’s low profile concerning Osama bin Ladin’s death for an Associated Press story that appeared in several publications, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 5, 2011.

William Lawrence, Dean, Perkins School of Theology, discussed the various forms of redemption in the context of the Easter holiday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution April 23, 2011.

Metin Eren (left), Anthropology, Dedman College, discussed his research into ancient tool-making on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio show “Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald” April 16, 2011.

Human Rights Program hosts discussion on U.S. women’s rights April 28

A panel of experts will discuss emerging encroachments on U.S. women’s rights at the next presentation of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.

“Under Fire: Women’s Rights in the U.S.” is cosponsored by the Embrey Family Foundation and will take place 7:30-9 p.m. Thursday, April 28, 2011 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in SMU’s Dedman College, will moderate a panel that includes:

Event parking will be available in the Daniel Avenue lot behind Dallas Hall. For more information, call 214-768-8347.

Birmingham bombing survivor Junie Collins Williams to speak at SMU Feb. 17

Junie Collins WilliamsJunie Collins Williams (pictured left) survived the infamous Alabama church bombing that killed one of her sisters and maimed another. Her story of survival – and the lessons she believes are important for younger generations – will be front and center during “Journey to Peace: An Eyewitness Account of the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing.” The event takes place Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

The lecture is free and open to the public and is sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program in collaboration with SMU’s Association of Black Students. Williams’ visit is part of the University’s observance of Black History Month.

Birmingham church bombing victims Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair and Carol RobertsonAddie Mae Collins died with three other little girls (pictured right) in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church Sept. 15, 1963. The assault on the predominantly African American church was orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan, who were outraged by the desegregation of Birmingham’s schools. Not only did Addie Mae perish, but Williams had to identify her body. Another sister, Sarah Jean Collins, lost an eye in the attack.

The last remaining terrorists responsible for the bombing were prosecuted in 2001, but Williams struggled with feelings of hatred for decades. She leaned on the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King to help accept a nonviolent stance. She also leaned on her family’s powerful belief in God – instilled in her at an early age – to help embrace forgiveness as an important guiding principle in life.

“I could have let this situation get the best of me, but through God’s work in me, I pushed my way through until what seemed to be a burden around my head was pushed off,” she says. “God took a day that was meant for evil and turned it around for the good of all.”

According to SMU Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, hate crimes such as last year’s church burnings in east Texas have risen 8 percent since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008. That number continues to jump 4 percent each year, he says.

It’s obvious that America’s struggle with accepting human rights is not over, Halperin adds. “That’s the real message of (Williams’) visit. This country is nowhere near the fully accepting nation that it could become. It’s better, but better doesn’t mean sufficient.”

Williams, who recently moved to San Antonio, believes there is hope for healing in America: “I know, because I have been healed.”

Written by Denise Gee

> Read more from SMU News
> Find a complete schedule for SMU’s Black History Month 2011
> Visit SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program online
> Learn more about SMU diversity programs from Student Activities & Multicultural Student Affairs (SAMSA)

Faculty in the News: Oct. 12, 2010

Bernard Weinstein, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, wrote about reasons for delaying the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas rules in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram Oct. 6, 2010.

Linda Eads, Dedman School of Law, discussed the State Bar of Texas’ proposed “sex with clients” rule for an article published in The Dallas Morning News Oct. 4, 2010.

Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights Program, Dedman College, wrote a column in opposition to the death penalty that was published in The Dallas Morning News Oct. 6, 2010.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, discussed the race for Texas governor and the controversy over the distribution of money from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund with The Houston Chronicle Oct. 4, 2010.

Metin Eren, a graduate student in archaeology in Dedman College, was featured in a story on how scientists are rethinking theories on the intelligence of Neanderthals that appeared in The Washington Post Oct. 5, 2010.

Mark Chancey on MSNBCMark Chancey (right), Religious Studies, Dedman College, and the Rev. Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas talked about the debate over how Islam is characterized in Texas textbooks with MSNBC News Sept. 24, 2010. video

David Chard, Dean, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, talked about education schools and the role they play in producing strong teachers with The Dallas Morning News Oct. 3, 2010.

Jeff Bellin, Dedman School of Law, talked with Reuters about a court hearing into the 2004 Texas execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson murders of his three young daughters. The article was released Oct. 2, 2010, and appeared in numerous publications, including The Chicago Tribune.

New lecture series explores Holocaust’s lingering impact

'Holocaust Legacies' posterSMU’s Human Rights Education Program is cosponsoring a three-month series of lectures, symposiums, film screenings, photography exhibits and musical performances examining how the Holocaust continues to affect the world.

“Holocaust Legacies: Shoah as Turning Point” begins Sept. 9 with a 7 p.m. reception and a 7:30 p.m. introductory panel discussion in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum. The program will run through the end of November with events held both on and off the SMU campus, and all events are free and open to the public.

Panel members on Sept. 9 will include Christopher Anderson, associate professor of sacred music in Perkins School of Theology; Janis Bergman-Carton, art history chair in Meadows School of the Arts; Elliott Dlin, executive director of the Dallas Holocaust Museum; Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Human Rights Education Program and Tom Mayo, director of SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility.

Halperin, who each December escorts educational groups to former Nazi death camp locations in Poland, is committed to raising awareness of what he calls “the crime within the war,” even as the number of people who lived through the war, and the Holocaust, dwindles with each passing year. September marks the 70th anniversary of the Nazi German invasion of Poland and beginning of World War II.

“It’s safe to say most Americans don’t think about World War II any more,” Halperin said. “We fought the war, defeated the Nazis, and came home the good guys. We mushroomed into a world power. Most Americans since then have lived a relatively safe and comfortable life.”

But the legacy of the Holocaust continues at many levels, Halperin said: The Nazis committed the greatest art theft in history, looting the collections of Jewish families whose descendents are still litigating to see their treasures returned. All major war crime tribunals bear the stamp of the post-World War II Nuremburg Trials, and the United States in May deported a nearly 90-year-old man, John Demjanjuk, for Nazi war crimes.

Halperin noted that in Europe, sensitivity to the Shoah’s legacy is reflected even in restrictions to how people talk and write about the Nazi regime. “You can buy a copy of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf in the SMU Book Store – that’s free speech,” Halperin explained. “You can deny the Holocaust in the U.S., and that’s free speech, too. You can’t do that in Europe.” Halperin said he expects the series to be “a powerful, emotional, somber and sobering series of events.”

Co-sponsors for the 2009 Fall Program Series are SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, SMU Meadows School of the Arts, SMU Perkins School of Theology, TCU’s Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Department of Social Work and the University of Dallas.

Find a complete schedule at the SMU News site

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