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Tennessee Human Rights Day Spreads Hope During Virtual Event

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The Tennessee Celebration of International Human Rights Day took place on December 10th virtually.


Tennesseans gather each year on December 10th to celebrate International Human Rights Day. This year is quite different, as the event was held virtually. During the event, leaders are acknowledged, and awards went to human rights champions in three categories: Rising Advocate, Outstanding Service and Lifetime Achievement.


The Rising Advocate Award went to Nashville’s 2020 Youth Poet Laureate, Alora Young; and members of the group Teens 4 Equality who organized the 10,000 person protest this summer in support of African American rights.


The Outstanding Service Award went to Rev. Becca Stevens, who is founder and president of Thistle Farms and has served as the chaplain at St. Augustine Chapel for more than 20 years; and Dr. James Hildreth, the 12th president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College, the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health sciences center.


The Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr., a civil rights activist and veteran of the Freedom Riders; and Rev. V. H. “Sonnye” Dixon, the lead pastor at Hobson UMC, known as a passionate advocate for public education, a champion of human and civil rights for all people, and a person unafraid to speak truth to power in political, social, education and religious communities.


The theme for Human Rights Day this year was “Our Shared Humanity: Rooted in Hope,” and brought people together in an uplifting celebration of the good that has come out of a year filled with chaos. Rashad thaPoet did an incredible performance piece around this theme, which was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Beverly Watts of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. Panel members were former Commission Chair Jocelyn Wurzburg and past Human Rights Rising Advocate Awardee Justin Jones.


A committee of human rights organizations, nonprofits, and advocates, including the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, Metro Human Relations Commission, Scarritt Bennett Center, Tennessee United for Human Rights, the Church of Scientology, and others, work together each year to plan the event.


“This year more than any before we have a need to acknowledge the goodness in mankind. Human Rights Day gives us a chance to do that, while also recharging our batteries for the year to come,” says planning committee chair Rev. Brian Fesler, pastor of the Church of Scientology in Nashville. “The day centers around the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and implementing the articles in that document are the best chance we have for human survival.”


All information regarding the event can be found on the website 



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