COEUR d'ALENE - The history and impact of human rights advocacy in the region will be the subject of a five-part weekly speaker series hosted in August by the Kootenai County Democratic Club.
"The Story of Human Rights in the Pacific Northwest: A Look Back at the Past Three Decades" is being coordinated by local human rights leader Tony Stewart at the request of the Democratic Club.
"The goal of the series is to tell the three-decade story of how the region's many human rights groups through their leaders and supporters successfully defeated the purveyors of hate with the establishment of successful community models advancing human rights," Stewart said. "These models have been adopted by communities across America to promote human rights and counter bigotry."
The series will feature speakers and panelists who have observed, reported on or directly participated in the enactment of civil rights laws, creation of regional human rights organizations, and the various communities' responses and support for the activities of the human rights groups.
The discussions will focus on three main areas: First, the establishment and growth, starting in the early 1980s, of human rights groups and their work to counter the emergence of hate groups in the region.
Second, the rise and fall of hate groups in the region over the past 30 years.
Third, the recognition of the many successes and triumphs for the region's human rights organizations in public policies, educational programs, events, activities and the national recognitions and honors that have come from these successes.
"I hope the series will be of interest to both new residents and our youth who may not know this history," Stewart said.
The program will take place each Friday at noon, Aug. 2 through Aug. 30, at the Iron Horse, 407 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene. The public is welcome and encouraged by the group to attend.
Schedule of speakers and topics
Panelists: Mike Patrick, manager editor of The Coeur d'Alene Press; Maureen Dolan, longtime journalist with The Coeur d'Alene Press; and Jeff Selle, a seasoned reporter with The Coeur d'Alene Press.
Topic: "The Role of the Media in Covering this Human Rights Story Over the Past Three Decades."
Note: Tony Stewart's Human Rights Collection at the North Idaho College Molested Library has documented that The Coeur d'Alene Press has covered more of these human rights stories in our region than any media outlet in the United States.
Keynote Speaker: Bill Morlin, longtime reporter for The Spokesman Review and presently a researcher and writer for The Southern Poverty Law Center, has often been described as the most knowledgeable journalist in America regarding hate groups, their leadership and the methods used by human rights groups to counter the threat.
Topic: "The Historical Perspective on Hate Groups in America and the Success of Human Rights Groups in Countering the Hate"
Note: The Spokesman Review, according to Stewart's human rights collection, holds the record for the greatest number of editorials in support of human rights and opposition to hate groups over this 30-year period.
Panelists: Marshall Mend and Tony Stewart, founding board members in 1981 of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations and KCTFHR attorney Norm Gissel will share four inspiring events from the 32-year history of the movement.
Topic: "Lessons Learned from Communities' Responses to Hate"
Panelists: Gretchen Hellar, co-founder of the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force and former mayor of Sandpoint; Christina Crawford, president of the Benewah Human Rights Coalition; Joann Muneta, co-founder of the Latah County Human Rights Task Force; and Christie Wood, president of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.
Topic: "The Merits of County Human Rights Task Forces in Promoting Diversity and Human Rights in Their Communities: What Do They Do?"
Keynote Speaker: Norm Gissel, civil rights attorney and one of the attorneys in the civil court case "The Keenans v Aryan Nations" in 2000.
Topic: "The Story of How the "All-American City" Coeur d'Alene became a National Icon and Model for Human Rights"