Tennesseans typically gather each year on December 10th to celebrate International Human Rights Day. This year will of course be quite different, and the committee has decided to hold the event virtually. During the event, leaders are acknowledged, and awards will go to human rights champions in these categories: Outstanding Service and Lifetime Achievement.
The Outstanding Service Award will go to Rev. Becca Stevens, who is founder and president of Thistle Farms, 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., is a civil rights activist and veteran of the Freedom Riders; and Rev. V. H. “Sonnye” Dixon, the lead pastor at Hobson UMC, is 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.
“Human Rights Day gives the community a chance to acknowledge advocates and leaders while also learning more about what human rights really mean for all people,” says planning committee chair Rev. Brian Fesler, pastor of the Church of Scientology in Nashville.
All information regarding the event can be found on the website www.nashvillehumanrights.org.