Story by Kayla Harrell, Staff writer
The City of Murray Human Rights Commission hosted Murray’s first Human Rights Awareness Week this week, themed “Human Rights for All.”
Jessica Evans, vice chairwoman for the City of Murray Human Rights Commission, said this week will bring awareness to the commission, community organizers, activists and ties in Murray that reflect the larger human rights framework.
“This week is really about bringing awareness to the issue, letting people know that human rights are not something that just get put on a shelf and you get to dismiss it whenever it’s not convenient,” Evans said.
Human rights are a set of basic principles declaring inalienable rights and freedoms of all people; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains 30 articles, which serve as a set of principles for governments to use to remain accountable for their duty to protect the rights and freedoms of all people, according to the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
“It’s more than just a basic need,” Evans said. “It’s about understanding a basic respect and dignity for your fellow man.”
Human Rights Awareness Week consisted of a high school writing contest, a voting rights awareness seminar, a disability awareness day with a film viewing of “Fixed,” a “Democracy, Turnout and Inequality” lecture and a Need Line food drive.
Jody Cofer Randall, chairwoman for the City of Murray Human Rights Commission, said the commission wanted an opportunity to give back to “some of those that are less fortunate.”
“I’m hoping that people will engage with us,” said D. Andrew Porter, independent living advocate for the Center for Accessible Living. “Without that community engagement, the problems that are facing this community are never going to begin to be solved.”
Through a human rights education, an individual can empower themselves and others to develop the skills and attitudes that promote equality, dignity and respect in their community, society and worldwide, according to Amnesty International.
“Human rights are at work in Murray all the time, whether you see it or not,” Cofer Randall said. “We all have a part to play in that. Just because you might not be able to speak out on certain things, there are other things you can do that are in support of equality.”
The commission’s purpose is to promote and secure mutual understanding and respect among all economic, social, religious, age, ethnic, sexual and racial groups in the city, according to the City of Murray website.
“Every person can only speak to their own lived experiences and their individual uniqueness,” Porter said.
Porter said all individuals want their differences to be recognized but still be accepted as “a person first.”
“It really is about that interconnection of how we all coexist. We’re all very individualized, and there’s some beauty in that,” Cofer Randall said. “Sometimes our differences cause problems, but often times we share more than we differ.”