The terrorist attack in Charlottesville on August 12 serves as a sobering reminder that racist attitudes and structural racism are very much part of our world’s current landscape.
As human rights lawyers and advocates, too often we have seen the destructive impact of intolerance, hatred, and fear on communities both in the United States and abroad. Inspired by Robert F. Kennedy’s vision for a more just and peaceful world, our team at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is committed to tackling discrimination and prejudice at every level so that human rights principles of equality and freedom from discrimination are universally recognized and respected.
The clear message of white supremacy on display in Charlottesville this weekend serves only to affirm our dedication to combating endemic and systemic racism in the United States.
Last year, we recognized Glenn Martin and Andrea James as our Human Rights Award winners for their work to address the racial and socioeconomic inequality perpetuated by the criminal justice system. Their efforts at criminal justice reform continue to inform and complement our advocacy before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on nationwide failures to investigate and prosecute the shootings of people of color by police and our ongoing work to reform the inefficient and unjust pre-trial incarceration policies in New York and around the country, including the use of excessive cash bail that keeps people in jail simply because they cannot afford to purchase their freedom.
Moreover, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights seeks to address the ingrained culture of hate and discrimination that is at the root of this and many other systemic failures. We work with partners on the ground on litigation and advocacy to shed light on human rights abuses by amplifying their voices and their work.
Our human rights education program, Speak Truth to Power, teaches students about human rights defenders who struggle against pressing humanitarian issues and empowers them to become human rights defenders themselves by taking action in their own communities.
We also have programs geared towards young adult philanthropic leaders and the investment community to ensure a holistic approach to respecting human rights from all levels of society.
As Robert F. Kennedy once said, our actions are tiny ripples of hope that, together, will form a current of change. Amidst the ugliness of last weekend, we must continue to strike out against injustice. We are energized, too.
Our work continues.