Embrey Human Rights Program

New book on Holocaust Poland commemorates 10th anniversary of SMU human rights program

'No Resting Place' book coverBearing witness to Poland’s deep physical and emotional scars that linger long after World War II – when the Nazis made the country the epicenter of the Holocaust – is the focus of a new book by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.

No Resting Place: Holocaust Poland (Terrace Partners, $39.95) combines more than 200 contemporary photos of occupied Poland’s deadliest Holocaust sites with historical vignettes and poignant observations from those who have experienced one of the most comprehensive, longest-running Shoah study trips offered by a U.S. university.

> Read a preview of No Resting Place: Holocaust Poland

Each December, the two-week “Holocaust Poland” trip – led for more than 20 years by SMU Prof. Rick Halperin – exposes students and lifelong learners to the Third Reich’s genocidal “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Both the trip and book are meant to ensure historical remembrance and “history as warning,” says history professor and co-author Halperin. “In our increasingly polarized world, where hate crimes against Jews and Muslims are on the rise, the need for tolerance and understanding has never been greater.”

Dallas philanthropist and SMU alumna Lauren Embrey (’80, ’06) couldn’t agree more. Embrey’s life would be profoundly changed by the 2005 “Holocaust Poland” pilgrimage she took while pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) degree at SMU. In 2006, Lauren, her sister Gayle, and their Embrey Family Foundation funded the pioneering Embrey Human Rights Program, led by Halperin, within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. In 2012, enthusiasm for the program allowed SMU to go from offering a human rights minor and MLS concentration in human rights and social justice to providing a Bachelor of Arts degree in the field, making SMU one of only five U.S. universities to do so. (Since then, two others have followed suit.)

Since Halperin began leading SMU study trips to Poland in 1996, the number of participants has grown from a handful to more than three dozen who went on the 20th anniversary pilgrimage in 2016 (including two dozen students able to travel thanks to a gift from SMU alumnus Mike Disque ’64 and his wife, Cherri). To commemorate the program’s 10th anniversary and trip’s second decade, Halperin teamed up with SMU colleagues Sherry Aikman and Denise Gee to create No Resting Place.

The trio’s primary objective was to produce a book sensitively depicting “the last places ever seen by millions of innocent people who didn’t want to die in such horrific places,” Halperin says. “And unlike most other Holocaust books we wanted this one to be produced in color – because the Holocaust happened in color.”

— Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

Retired Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown dubs SMU’s class of 2016 ‘the next Greatest Generation’ at December Commencement


Retired Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown told SMU’s more than 530 December graduates that “[y]ou all may be the next greatest generation of heroes in this country.” The University celebrated its 2016 December Commencement Convocation on Saturday, Dec. 17.

SMU President R. Gerald Turner praised keynote speaker Brown for helping reduce both crime in Dallas and the DPD’s use of deadly force. Turner also commended him for his actions following the July 7 attack “when Chief Brown’s strength and leadership were tested on one of the darkest days in the history of Dallas.” That day, a lone gunman ambushed DPD and DART officers who had been protecting participants in a peaceful late-afternoon protest march downtown. Five officers were killed and 12 were wounded during the assault.

“Chief Brown took charge that night with the professionalism and calm demeanor of a true leader,” President Turner said, noting that the 33-year DPD veteran “helped maintain equilibrium in a wounded city.”

Brown’s address focused on his long-held fascination with heroes, especially Superman. Watching re-runs of “The Adventures of Superman” was a regular after-school pastime for the third-generation Dallasite. As a young man, Brown said, “I wanted so much to join modern-day heroes of our society that I rushed to sign up for the Dallas Police Department” in 1983.

Brown then told the graduates, “You all may be the next greatest generation of heroes in this country. You all are global citizens much more than my generation.”

His closing statement rallied the crowd even further.

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! It’s a plane, it’s a train – no, it’s the 2016 graduating class of Southern Methodist University: My heroes. Now, go save the world!”

Also speaking at Commencement was SMU Engaged Learning Fellow José Manuel Santoyo, who earned bachelor of arts degrees in human rights and Spanish. The Mexican national and American citizen-hopeful, raised in Corsicana, spent much of his life as an undocumented immigrant before qualifying in 2012 to study and work legally in the U.S. thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program initiated by the Department of Homeland Security.

> Watch José Santoyo’s Commencement speech at FOX 4 News

Santoyo thanked SMU’s “amazing faculty and staff,” including Embrey Human Rights Program Associate Director Bradley Klein, his Engaged Learning mentor. As part of his project, Santoyo voluntarily tested his DACA status via a study-abroad trip – risking not being able to return to his education and family in the U.S. – in order to document the experience and give courage to others wanting to follow in his footsteps.

Santoyo also recognized the Consul General of Mexico who was in attendance.

“This country continues to be built by immigrants,” Santoyo said, adding, “an educated populace benefits us all.”

> Full coverage of 2016 December Commencement from SMU News

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

Calendar Highlights: Mustang Must-do’s for April 22, 2016

Korean ‘Comfort Women’ Presentation: In a rare U.S. appearance, two surviving Kang Il-chul, a former Korean sex slavevictims of Japanese military sexual slavery will be at SMU on Friday, April 22, for the Embrey Human Rights Program’s “Evening With Kang Il-Chul and Lee Ok-Seon,” held in partnership with Seoul, South Korea’s House of Sharing, an assisted living home where Il-Chul and Ok-Seon and five others find support. The free public event will begin with a 6:30 p.m. reception featuring Korean food and dance tributes, followed by a 7:15 p.m. discussion in McCord Auditorium, Room 306 of Dallas Hall, 3225 University Blvd.

Cézanne Quartet: Join the Cézanne Quartet, Meadows’ Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence, on Saturday, April 23 as they perform the two quartets by Janacek and Beethoven’s “Rasumovsky” Quartet, op. 59, no. 2. Since winning Second Place Ensemble in the Senior Division of the Coltman Chamber Music Competition, the musicians have collaborated with cellist Andrés Díaz and violist Matt Albert of SMU, performed with the Bridge the Gap Chamber Players and Open Classical Artist Series and participated in the McGill International String Quartet Academy. The free public event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium.

Heavenly Images: “When I consider your heavens….” The words of Psalm 8 serve as the basis for the final choral concert of the season on Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. From Tarik O’Regan’s The Ecstasies Above, a setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s Israfel, to Franz Joseph Haydn’s celebratory chorus The Heavens Are Telling, you will spend the evening gazing at a myriad of heavenly images. The Meadows choirs are honored to be joined in this performance by the young artists of Flower Mound High School. The concert is free and open to the public and will be held in Caruth Auditorium.

Tables of Content invitationFriends of the Library: The Friends of the SMU Libraries will host the 16th annual Tables of Content fundraiser at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 30, in the newly renovated Fondren Foundation Centennial Reading Room in Fondren Library, 6414 Robert S. Hyer Lane.

The event will include the presentation of the 7th annual Literati Award to Darwin Payne ’68, SMU centennial historian and professor emeritus of communications. The event also will feature a reception honoring the “Top 10 Haute Young Authors” as well as 19 table hosts who will lead discussions on a variety of topics with guests at the dinner.

Tickets to Tables of Content are $150. Sponsorship packages with special benefits and seating for the event are available from $1,000 to $10,000. For additional information, call (214) 768-3225 or visit smu.edu/friends.

 

Embrey Human Rights Program selects five SMU students as Community Outreach Fellows

For the second cohort of Community Outreach Fellows (COF), the most prestigious honor the Embrey Human Rights Program (EHRP) offers, only five students were selected. This year-long program offers students the opportunity to serve the Dallas community and develop the skills necessary to make real world change.

After a competitive application process, fellows create a year-long project in conjunction with a local placement organization. They identify relevant community needs, establish feasible goals and objectives and see the project to its end, working around 200 hours over the year. Throughout this time, they receive dual mentorship from the EHRP staff and their placement organization.

The 2015 -16 Community Outreach Fellows are currently finishing up and reflecting on their projects. Here is what they have been working on:

Daryl Parker: Parker is graduating in May with a Master’s degree in human rights and social justice. He is currently working alongside the Innocence Project of Texas (IPTX), to provide free investigative services to indigent defendants in pursuit of post-conviction relief on the grounds of actual innocence. His daily work uncovers prosecutorial misconduct, law enforcement error and the negative role money plays in the criminal justice system. With only a two-person staff to handle numerous time-consuming cases, Parker’s services provide unparalleled support for IPTX. Parker had previously volunteered with the organization as part of the service requirement for Dr. Rick Halperin’s human rights course. He was intrigued by the opportunity because of his background as a former criminal investigator. Once he saw how poorly some of the cases had been handled he was committed to the cause. Since his involvement in the COF program, he has learned that “social justice work is a marathon, not a sprint and it takes a lot of people with the right priorities and resources to effect change.”

Liliana Garcia: Garcia is a junior studying international relations. She is also involved in Kappa Delta Chi sorority, inc. and College Hispanic American Students (CHAS). As a first-generation graduate from a Dallas Independent School District (DISD) school, she was inspired to create workshops to prepare students like herself for college. She knew how hard the college application process was and has since been making it easier for those who are following her. She focuses primarily on first-generation Hispanic students and encourages them to attend four-year universities. She works closely with parents and students from the North Dallas region and Roberto Corona, EHRP Community Outreach Coordinator. As a COF, Garcia has learned how to deal with challenging situations, how to find the resources she needs for her projects and how others (especially those in her cohort) are targeting the various issues in the Dallas community.

Sam Butz: Butz is a junior studying creative advertising and fashion media. She was recently awarded a local silver American Advertising Award for her work in product promotion. She is also a member of SMU’s Division I Swim Team and an Engaged Learning Fellow. She has combined her love for fashion, her interest in human rights, and her participation on a swim team that wears SMU purchased uniforms for this project. For the past year, she has researched and developed campaigns on labor rights surrounding the apparel at SMU. This idea first came to her when she was enrolled in Professor Carina Heckert‘s Health as a Human Rights class, which she signed-up for without any knowledge of or interest in the area. Her semester project was on Alta Garcia, a living-wage garment factory in the Dominican Republic. She researched and visited the factory and quickly realized that there was a void on campus surrounding garment worker’s rights. She saw the fellowship as an opportunity to incite change on campus and bring light to the issues at hand. Through her work she has learned how much time goes into research and changing existing systems and because of that, she has also learned that even a small step of progress is a success.

Sandra Ostad: Ostad is a second-year Masters in Liberal Arts student studying Human Rights and Refugees. After interning in the development department at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) of Dallas, Ostad decided to apply for the Community Outreach Fellowship to continue her work with the refugee populations of Dallas. She has been working to connect the IRC with refugee communities and to expand their immigration department. A bulk of her work has been focused on developing and implementing a sustainable citizenship education program to help refugees and legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens. She is also working on building and strengthening the IRC’s relationships with community partners, religious sites and other resettlement organizations in Dallas. These partners can then work alongside the IRC to ensure that refugees know who to turn to for legal advice and assistance. Her time thus far as a fellow has been exceptionally beneficial in helping her grow intellectually and professionally.

Vanna Ngo: Ngo is a Masters students studying Human Rights and Social Justice. She is working on introducing a restorative justice program into Residence Life and Student Conduct. These measures would work alongside regular adjudication methods and be offered when a student is deemed eligible for participation in a facilitated dialogue. She has worked with the University of Michigan and University of Oregon to develop a training manual. She is now working with SMU’s Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for implementation. She has been able to learn how over 30 colleges and universities in the U.S. have created restorative justice programs of their own and have been successful. She has been inspired by restorative justice programs ability to give victims a voice and to foster a greater sense of community and healing. Ngo also co-founded the non-profit, Peace is Possible, where in conjunction with EHRP they hold a Peace Day Conference each year on the UN declared International Day of Peace.

EHRP Assistant Director Brad Klein has worked closely with this year’s COFs and they’ve each looked to him for motivation and advice through the process. “I am impressed and inspired by this year’s Community Outreach Fellowship projects,” says Klein. Each fellow started one year ago with an idea of how to address a human rights problem. With hard work, determination, and passion, those ideas developed into practical strategies for change. Along the way, the fellows were supported by professionals on campus and in the community who graciously shared time and expertise. All the projects – whether focused on wrongful convictions, migrant education, worker rights, refugee support, or restorative justice – have impacted the SMU and Dallas communities in positive ways.”

Applications for the 2016-17 program are due by April 15. All SMU students who will be enrolled in courses during the fellowship are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit the COF website or contact Klein.

Another generation of SMU Civil Rights Pilgrims set out on March 4, 2016

This years travelers with the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage will experience a different kind of spring break. They’ll join 50 others on an eight-day bus journey (March 4-12) to experience the history of the civil rights movement firsthand. I will be one of those lucky travelers.

CRP

This program, started in 2004, continues to grow each year. In 2008, the pilgrimage joined forces with Dr. Dennis Simon‘s Political Science course. Now the trip is also a requirement for undergraduate human rights majors and is offered to students in the Master of Liberal Studies Program.

Ray Jordan, trip leader, pastor and professor, came to our first class to discuss the pilgrimage. I wasn’t too excited about having a night class during my last semester in college, but Jordan made me excited about what was to come this semester. I was amazed by how far back the history of the pilgrimage went. This spring break, I’ll not only be experiencing years of American history but also years of SMU history. I’ll take part in an experience that is an integral part of what being an SMU student is all about.

Our journey will take us through the history of the civil rights movement. We’ll begin in Little Rock and visit Central High School and then move to Selma and walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We’ll be around for the anniversary of Bloody Sunday and then continue on through Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. We’ll meet former marchers, journalists, and activists. We’ll be meeting, as Dr. Simon describes, “the ordinary who accomplished extraordinary things.” Even with the itinerary in hand, I still am not sure what all I’ll be experiencing, but I’m sure it will all be worthwile. In just two weeks, I’ll be able to attach a face and a story to the names Dr. Simon has repeatedly mentioned in our Thursday night class.

As a book worm myself, I’m most excited to meet those whose memoirs we’ve read throughout the semester. Their stories of struggle and triumph are invigorating and well-written. They’re able to recount painful memories with eloquence and charge. For example, on March 8, we’ll be visiting with Rev. Robert Graetz, the author of A White Preacher’s Memoir. Graetz was assigned as pastor to Trinity Lutheran Church in the black community in Montgomery, Alabama. His memoir honestly retells the “brutal and dehumanizing treatment” of blacks and has already left an impact on my classmates and I. I can’t even imagine what it will be like to hear his experiences in person.

I’ve wanted to take part in this trip since I was a freshman, but it wasn’t until I declared my human rights major last spring that I knew for a fact that this is how I would spend my last spring break in college. I don’t think there could be a better way to round off my experience as a political science and human rights student at SMU.

Students on this year’s pilgrimage have every intent of recording events as they take place, so keep an eye out to hear about their emotional, educational and impactful experiences throughout the week.

Click here to learn more about SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage and stay tuned to hear about this year’s pilgrims.

SMU Russian Club celebrates 20th anniversary of Russian Winter Festival Feb. 29-March 13, 2016

russian-festival-20th-anniversary-400The SMU Russian Club and Russian Studies Program present two weeks of lectures, film screenings, art exhibits, concerts and music master classes during its 20th annual Russian Winter cultural festival Feb. 29-March 13, 2016.

The festival, which will conclude with the traditional celebration of Maslenitsa, also includes a talent show featuring SMU students.

The festival kicks off with the lecture “100 Years of Russian Art, 1917 to Now” by Vladimir Zimakov, director of the Wedeman Gallery and an associate professor of art and design at Lasell College in Boston. As an artist, designer, and illustrator, Zimakov has worked with leading publishing houses such as Penguin, Random House, Farber and Farber, and the Folio Society. He has illustrated books and book covers for the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Alexandre Dumas, Gustav Meyrink, Nikolai Gogol, Herman Melville and A.T.A. Hoffman, among others. His work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in America, Europe, and Russia.

The event begins with refreshments starting at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 29 in the Huitt-Zollars Conference Room, J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering Building. The presentation and Q&A begin at 12 p.m.

On Wednesday, March 2, the award-winning journalist and photographer Sergei Loiko, who has written about events in Russia and the former Soviet states for The Los Angeles Times since 1991, will speak on “Putin’s War in Ukraine.” Loiko has covered wars in countries including Afghanistan and Iraq and will talk about why the war in Ukraine is different from others.

Loiko will also present his new documentary novel, Airport, which is about the defense of Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine. The book has already been translated into several languages and has become a bestseller on Amazon. Book signing will begin at 11:30 am with presentation and Q&A beginning at 12 p.m. in the Huitt-Zollars Conference Room, J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering Building. This event is co-sponsored by the Embrey Human Rights Program.

Diana Cates, a student of intermediate Russian and political science emphasizes the importance of the Festival for the SMU and Dallas community. “Russia is the world’s largest country and still remains one of the most misunderstood. The festival offers a unique and challenging opportunity to enrich a better understanding of Russian culture, art, history, current politics and Russian-American relations through lectures, discussions, art exhibits, and concerts.”

Students of SMU Russian Studies are helping the Dallas-based Russian American Center, the Russian School of Dallas, Art with Perspective, and Dallas and Saratov Sister City, Inc. to organize several community cultural events which are part of the Russian Festival.  Students work as coordinators, advisers, volunteers, and interpreters at the International Children’s Festival “Planet of Talents” and at art exhibitions and concerts in the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. They will also participate in the International Women’s Day party, which is very popular in Russia, and is organized by SMU graduate Kostya Chernikov.

At the culmination of the Russian Festival, students participate in the traditional Russian celebration of long winter’s end and the greeting of spring called Maslenitsa. SMU students will serve as volunteers at this event, doing fun activities such as cooking pancakes, dancing, organizing children’s games, helping with the arts and crafts exhibit, and conducting costume and drawing contests.

“Participation in our festival and meeting with native speakers also helps students who are studying Russian to improve their language skills,” says Dasha Flowers, vice president of the SMU Russian Club and a student of advanced Russian. “This festival has rich traditions at SMU. The first festival was presented in 1967 and since 1997 it has become an annual tradition. Each year the Mayor of the City of Dallas signs a proclamation recognizing this festival as an important city cultural event.”

For more information, contact Russian Club president and graduate engineering student Vanessa Qixuan.

sergei-loiko

Calendar Highlights: Sept. 15, 2015

Taking action against trafficking: SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program hosts a screening of 8 Days, a 2015 film about child sex trafficking in the United States, on Tuesday, Sept. 15 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. Representatives from the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and SMU’s Dedman School of Law will be on hand to discuss how you can help stop human trafficking. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; the film begins at 7 p.m.

Delta Gamma Lecture flyer - Jerry Greenfield, Ben and Jerry'sSweet social responsibility: Ben & Jerry’s cofounder Jerry Greenfield will speak about the importance of community stewardship at SMU’s 2015 Delta Gamma Lectureship in Values and Ethics. The event, hosted by the University’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and sponsored by the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Delta Gamma, takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 15 in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center. The lecture is free and open to the public – and yes, there will be free ice cream. Read more from SMU News.

Meadows Jazz Orchestra Brown Bag: Bring your lunch for a brown-bag concert by the Meadows Jazz Orchestra, directed by Dylan Smith, at 12:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17 in the Taubman Atrium, Owen Arts Center. The concert will offer a sneak preview of the MJO’s 2015-16 season, and the ensemble features students from a number of degree programs and majors across Meadows School of the Arts and SMU. Admission is free.

Fra Angelico, 'The Virgin of the Pomegranate' - photo by Nancy GeorgeThe faces of Fra Angelico: Italian Renaissance expert Laurence Kanter, chief durator and Lionel Goldfrank III Curator of European Art with the Yale University Art Gallery, examines the dual – and sometimes conflicting – images of Fra Angelico (ca. 1395-1455) as both a humble and spiritually inspired artist, and as a skillful businessman and a familiar of the powerful and politically connected. “Fra Angelico and the Early Renaissance in Florence” begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17 in the Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium, Meadows Museum. The lecture is free, and the Museum offers priority seating for members until 5:40 p.m. (Left, Fra Angelico’s The Virgin of the Pomegranate is on display as part of the Meadow Museum’s Treasures from the House of Alba through Jan. 3, 2016. Photo by Nancy George, SMU News.)

'Infanta Margarita in a Blue Dress,' Diego VelasquezThe master and Margarita: Meadows/Kress/Prado Fellow Rebecca Teresi discusses the story behind Diego Velázquez’ series of masterpieces depicting the Infanta Margarita Teresa of Spain in “Velázquez and the Infanta Margarita” at 12:15 p.m. Friday, September 18. The lecture is free, and you’ll also have a chance to view one of these masterworks, Infanta Margarita in a Blue Dress (1659, oil on canvas), on loan from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, through Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015.

60-second songfest: SMU’s Opera Free For All series returns for 2015-16 with its popular season opener, which showcases every member of the Meadows Opera Theatre ensemble in 60-second arias and songs. “Bite-size Arias/Big-size Talents” begins at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18 in the Bob Hope Theatre Lobby, Owen Arts Center. Admission is free.

SMU celebrates MLK with Dream Week 2015 Jan. 17-22

Martin Luther King Jr.

SMU celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during Dream Week 2015.

SMU celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during Dream Week 2015, Jan. 17-22.

Sponsored by SMU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the annual observance features a variety of activities, including opportunities for community service and a commemorative walk.

The schedule of events:

Saturday, Jan. 17:

  • Dallas Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, 10 a.m., starting at Dallas City Hall. SMU administrators, faculty and students will participate in the City of Dallas’ parade – including SMU President R. Gerald Turner and alumnus Charles Cox, who as a student introduced King when he spoke at the University on March 17, 1966. (Listen to King’s speech at SMU or read the transcriptaudio) Alumni of SMU’s annual spring break Civil Rights pilgrimage, SMU Black Alumni members, SMU Multicultural Student Affairs representatives and SMU student athletes and coaches also will march in the parade. Find more information at MLKCelebrationDallas.org.

Sunday, Jan. 18:

  • SMU Student Coalition for Equity Meeting, 2 p.m., 243 Umphrey Lee Center. The Student Coalition for Equity is a grassroots social justice movement run by and for students. The group addresses issues of social injustice and seeks to create change from the bottom up.

Monday, Jan. 19:

  • MLK Day of Service, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., volunteer meet-up in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center at assigned times. SMU students, faculty and staff will join others across the country in a national day of service. Opportunities include preparing the Vickery Meadows Learning Center for the spring semester, building ramps at homes of those with physical disabilities and helping with landscaping at local nonprofit centers. Breakfast, lunch and transportation provided. Cosponsored by SMU’s Community Engagement and Leadership Center. Find more information at smu.edu/volunteer.
  • Free screening of “Selma” for SMU students, 7 p.m., Angelika Film Center, Mockingbird Station. SMU students can catch a free showing of this 2014 release, just nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, which explores 1965 Alabama as a battleground in the fight for suffrage for African-Americans. The screening will be followed by free pizza and a discussion with experts on the civil rights movement. Sponsored by Morrison-McGinnis Commons; register at tiny.cc/SelmaMoMac.

Tuesday, Jan. 20:

  • SMU Unity Walk, 12:30-1:30 p.m., starting at Hughes-Trigg Student Center Commons. President R. Gerald Turner and student leaders lead this annual demonstration of the University’s support for MLK’s work. All members of the SMU community are invited to join the walk from the flagpole on Bishop Boulevard to Perkins Chapel.

Wednesday, Jan. 21:

  • Real Talk: Conversations Around Diversity, noon, Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom West. With a January topic of “Is Your Voice Being Heard? Social media activism: How effective is it?,” this monthly discussion is open to students and other members of the SMU community.
  • Opening reception for Helen Suzman: Fighter for Human Rights, 4-6 p.m., Bob Hope Lobby, Owen Arts Center. This panel exhibition uses letters, speeches, political cartoons and news articles to showcase the career of the South African anti-apartheid and human rights activist. The exhibit runs in the Bob Hope Lobby, Owen Arts Center, through Feb. 20, 2015. Cosponsored by the SMU Arts + Urbanism Initiative and Embrey Human Rights Program. Find more information at the Meadows School of the Arts News and Events homepage.

Thursday, Jan. 22:

  • Film screening, “Mountains That Take Wings: A Conversation with Angela Davis and Yuri Kochiyama”, 6:30 p.m., Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom West. Based on exchanges in 1996 and 2008 between professor and writer Angela Davis and grassroots organizer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Yuri Kochiyama, the film showcases the scope and depth of their knowledge on topics ranging from Jim Crow laws and Japanese American internment camps, to Civil Rights, anti-war, women’s and gay liberation movements, to today’s campaigns for political prisoners and prison reform. Sponsored by SMU’s Women and LGBT Center.

For more information, contact SMU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, 214-768-4580.

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

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