This week, the Morris Human Rights Commission would like to share some information with you on the variety of ways that each of us, as community members, can get involved with human rights. Human rights are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being. Many of us often take these rights for granted, which is why groups like local Human Rights Commissions, state Human Rights Leagues, nonprofit organizations, and designated State Departments exist to help monitor issues that arise and ensure that all citizens and their rights are protected.
How can you get involved in helping to protect our rights? Start by doing some research. A quick search of the internet or our local library is a great place to begin. You will find thousands of organizations, books, and other materials focusing on hundreds of issues surrounding human rights. If you have a special area of interest or concern, you might want to start there and see what you can find. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (http://www.humanrights.state.mn.us/), and the Advocates for Human Rights (http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org) are two resources right here in Minnesota with a wealth of information to help you get started.
Another great way to learn more about these issues is by asking questions and talking with others. You may be surprised by the things you learn simply by listening. This is exactly how the MHRC monitors and addresses human rights concerns locally. Only by talking with members of the community and providing a supportive ear when issues arise are we then able to address concerns and help find possible solutions.
So now you’re ready to get involved, but wondering where to begin? The Morris Human Rights Commission has two ways for you to take the first step in helping to protect our human rights while also educating others. The MHRC is currently searching for community members who would like to join the Commission. A short application is available at the Morris City Office, and on our website at www.ci.morris.mn.us/mhrc. If you are interested, be sure to apply. We would love to have you join in this important work!
Another exciting way you can get involved locally is by participating in our Morris Human Rights Commission Logo Contest. The MHRC is looking for submissions from any and all individuals who have an idea for a logo that represents both the importance of human rights, and our local community. Submissions are being accepted now through November 30, 2012. ANYONE in the Morris and surrounding communities are eligible to enter! We encourage area elementary and high school students to submit entries with the help and/or assistance of an adult, and are reaching out to University of Minnesota, Morris students to submit entries as well. ANYONE is eligible to participate in this contest.
Full contest rules can be found on our website or picked up at the Morris City Office. The Morris Human Rights Commission will announce the winner of the logo contest on January 21, 2013 at UMM’s Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Event. The winner of the Morris Human Rights Commission Logo Contest will receive $100 in Morris Area Chamber Cash, and the notoriety of having your design displayed on the Morris Human Rights Commission website and most other print materials. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
So remember this quote from Hellen Keller, I’m only one person and I can’t do everything. But I can do something. I will not let the fact that I can’t do everything prevent me from doing what I can, and get involved in helping to protect human rights where you can. Next week’s article will focus on the Minnesota Human Rights Act, and what it means for us as citizens.
Becki Jordan – Morris Human Rights Commission Chair