Don't back down

Dave Eubanks honored for human rights efforts

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Dave Eubanks, right, talks with Tony Stewart before the commencement of an award ceremony Monday where Eubanks received the Tony Stewart Human Rights Education Award. Eubanks, who's been in the education field for 43 years, organizes an multicultural fair at Lakes Magnet Middle School as well as teaches Spanish at the school.

COEUR d'ALENE - Dave Eubanks was pleased to receive a human rights awards Monday night.

He was even more pleased to receive the honor on Dec. 10 - Human Rights Day around the world.

"I'm very, very proud and honored," he said.

It wasn't his award alone. Eubanks said. It belonged to others in North Idaho who have rejected hate, even in the face of threats, beatings and bombings.

"I know a lot of people who a long time ago stood up to ignorant, racist bullies and said no," he said. "They said, 'No, we will not tolerate this nonsense.'"

The Lakes Magnet School teacher, retiring after 43 years, received the Tony Stewart Human Rights Award from the Human Rights Education Institute.

Former Coeur d'Alene police officer Mike Kralicek, critically injured in a 2004 shooting while on duty, was presented with it in July.

"It's an outstanding gift we give to very few people," said Tom Carter, HREI director.

Eubanks received the glass plaque, engraved with his name, before about 30 people who attended the Friends of HREI Social at its headquarters next to City Park.

"I am so honored they are picking people like you," Stewart said.

He praised Eubanks for battling through his own adversities, including a heart transplant surgery. He is also the father of five special-needs children, and is the driving force behind the multicultural fair at Lakes Middle School that last year was attended by more than 1,000 people.

"Here's someone who shows how you fight back and how you overcome obstacles," Stewart said.

Carter said Eubanks has impacted the community, especially the younger generations. Eubanks has made it clear, in his own kind, quiet manner, that racism will not be accepted in any form.

"He keeps giving back and always wants to help out," Carter said.

Jeff Bengston, Lakes Magnet School principal, said Eubanks is there for the kids, teaching shop and Spanish and being sure they respect people. All people.

"When you get to know Dave you realize right away the man's got just a huge heart," he said.

"He really wants to do what's right for kids, and be sure kids know about the world they live in," Bengston said.

Eubanks said if children are exposed to hate, if they have the perception it's OK to target others because of physical appearance, he does his best to direct them in a positive direction. Staff at Lakes Magnet School, he said, have joined him in that effort.

"I couldn't have done whatever we've done, without their support," he said.

The multicultural fair, which includes music, food and programs on different traditions and people, has proven a successful way to introduce students to other views and thoughts. They can meet people of various beliefs and backgrounds, and understand more about who they are, what they believe, and why.

He has seen its effect in the classroom. Lakes today has perhaps a dozen Native Americans attending there, whereas years ago it might have had just a few.

Students have grown, Eubanks said, not just inside the classroom, but outside as well.

"I think they have become more open-minded toward people who are different," he said. "They're more accepting, they're more tolerant."

Dave Eubanks expects nothing less.

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