Tennessee celebrates International Human Rights Day

Honorees at 2019 celebration

Tennessee will celebrate International Human Rights Day on Thurs., Dec. 10. During the event, leaders are acknowledged, and awards will go to human rights champions in two categories: Outstanding Service and Lifetime Achievement.

The Outstanding Service Award will go 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 are going 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 is ‘Our Shared Humanity: Rooted in Hope,’ and will bring people together in an uplifting celebration of the good that has come out of a year filled with chaos. A panel incorporating this theme will be moderated by Beverly Watts of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. Panel members will be 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,” said 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.”

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