Our Voices

A human rights defender helps the next generation find their voices

New Orleans educator Stephen Bradberry instills human rights values in his students every day with a proactive approach.

Bradberry teaches at New Harmony High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was established five years ago and educates 250-300 students with a focus on coastal restoration and preservation – creating a sustainable Louisiana through project- and problem-based learning. It’s a proactive step to help create more human rights defenders like him.

Bradberry has always cared about his community, and that’s why, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he took action.

Bradberry, together with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, founded the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign, which aimed to rebuild neighborhoods, create living wage jobs, and return New Orleans residents to their homes. The grassroots campaign turned the Lower Ninth Ward into a pilot program for the rebuilding process after the devastating storm.

Bradberry received the RFK Human Rights Award in 2005 for his efforts. It recognized that community organizing could empower marginalized populations to have a say in the rebuilding process, and now Stephen has brought these skills to the classroom through the human rights club he runs at New Harmony; it has 11 members and meets every other Friday.

Upon his return to the classroom, Bradberry reached out to the Speak Truth to Power team at RFKHR and used it as a resource to secure speakers for engaging students and the community. His human rights club will host two events this spring, including one entirely in Spanish to serve the 20% of ESL students at New Harmony.

At the first event, 2011 HRA Laureate Frank Mugisha will speak with Big Freedia on LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S. and Uganda. For the second, 2012 HRA Laureate Librada Paz will host a session in Spanish about providing a voice to the voiceless in the community.

Not only will these events engage students and the community, they also will raise funds so Bradberry’s students can attend the Emerging Leaders Trip hosted by the STTP team. This year’s theme is environmental sustainability, and students will have a chance to talk with leaders from the EPA, NOAA, and on Capitol Hill, and participate in a service learning activity.

To help Bradberry’s human rights club attend the Emerging Leaders Trip, donate here or Venmo @newharmonyhigh, leaving a note for “Bradberry EL Trip.”