By Dione Friends
Online Media Coordinator
Deaths of Trayvon Martin and a beaten Iraqi mother in San Diego are extreme examples of the need for civil rights dialogue in America. We started that much needed dialogue at our day long Civil Right Conference last month. A civil rights coalition made up of civil rights organizations from around the state came together to discuss Civil rights post 9/11, immigrants’ rights, and Criminal Law Reform. Hundreds of concerned Texans gathered for an entire day to listen. The day was topped off with a moving speech from Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!
Check out our full recap:
Oscar Chacon, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, kicked off the conference with a civil rights overview.
Understanding Civil Rights Post 9/11
Mustafaa Carroll of CAIR Texas Houston Chapter moderated the Understanding Civil Rights Post 9/11 track.
Corey Saylor from CAIR spoke about islamaphobia and civil rights post 9/11.
Rick Halperin of SMU said, “Free speech in this country stops at the sidewalk of the supreme court” during his presentation on the right to protest and free speech. One Twitter follower wrote: “Rick Halperin of SMU killer speech on US history of oppression and free speech.”
Matt Simpson [Pictured middle] from the ACLU of Texas followed with a great speech about national security and privacy issues post 9/11.
Baldo Garza of LULAC moderated the immigrants rights panel.
Krystal Gomez [Pictured far left] from the ACLU of Texas presented on detention and deportation. Brent Wilkes [Pictured middle] from LULAC followed with a talk on immigration reform. Geoff Hoffman [Pictured far right] from the UH Law Center Immigration Clinic ended the discussion with a presentation about local, state, and federal enforcement.
Tribute to Cesar Chavez
Lunch was served during a tribute to César Chávez by Frank Curiel who was once Chávez’s bodyguard and close friend.
Our twitter followers wrote: “Things I didn’t know about Cesar Chavez: he was an environmentalist and vegetarian.”
And “Great perspective on Cesar Chavez life & struggle of farm workers by Frank Curiel.”
Criminal Justice Reform
Watch the Criminal Justice panel. Tarsha Jackson from Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth moderated. Ana Yanez-Correa [Pictured far right] from TCJC presented on over-incarceration. Gislaine Williams [Pictured middle right] from the ACLU of Texas discussed the school-to-prison pipeline and bullying in public schools. Gislaine said, “talking in class shouldn’t be a class c misdemeanor!”
Bob Libal [Pictured middle left] from Grassroots Leadership talked private prisons.
Dave Atwood [Pictured far left] from HPJC and TCADP closed the discussion with a speech about the death penalty in Texas. Dave stated, “The death penalty on its way out. Except in Ohio and Southern states.”
The room filled up for the keynote address by Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!
Amy urged listeners to actively fight for civil rights by quoting Barack Obama, “I don’t disagree with anything you say but you’ll have to make me do it.” If you missed her speech watch it here now.
We addressed the important issues facing our community today. Check out the Houston Chronicle’s article about the civil rights conference.
Special thanks to all the coalition members that made the conference a success:
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas
Black Heritage Society
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Texas – Houston Chapter
Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)
Houston Interfaith Workers Justice Center
Houston Peace and Justice Center (HPJC)
Houston United – Houston Unido
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Shades of White
Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJP)
Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth
Think Peace International Inc.
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP)
For more information visit http://civilrightscoalition.wordpress.com/.