Festival of Human Rights Marks the 70th Anniversary of the UDHR

On January 17, 2019, the Pozen Center’s Festival of Human Rights marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The Festival brought together the theory and practice of human rights for a campus and community audience. In a day-long program, the Pozen Center hosted interactive workshops and lively presentations on topics including the historical context of the UDHR, responses to the opioid crisis, innovative new forms of municipal identification, stories of migrants, and contemporary problems of voter suppression. 

The workshops opened with faculty from the History Department discussing the United Nations’ early effort to promote the UDHR. Professors Mark Bradley, Jane Dailey, Emily Osborn, Johanna Ransmeier, Jim Sparrow, and Tara Zahra each presented a view of the art and artifacts presented in the 1949 UNESCO show. In the afternoon, Creative Writing faculty Rachel Cohen and Rachel DeWoskin presented excerpts from their collection Migration Stories: A Community Anthology, a set of stories and poetry by University of Chicago faculty, staff, and students. The last workshop of the day had faculty each presenting their favorite article of the UDHR. Ben Laurence (Philosophy), Claudia Flores (Law), Susan Gzesh (Pozen Center), Alice Kim (Pozen Center Lab), and Sonali Thakkar (English) participated. 

In between the academic presentations, other faculty presented interactive opportunities to bring human rights into practice. Doctors Renslow Sherer and Evan Lyon trained participants how to administer Naloxone, a life-saving treatment that can be used to stop opioid overdoses. SSA Faculty Angela García, Yanilda González, and Marci Ybarra arranged for the Chicago City Clerk’s office to set up a work station to issue Chicago CityKeys, an innovative form of legal identification designed to benefit vulnerable populations like the homeless and undocumented–and also any Chicago resident interested in accessing advantages like free museum admission. The CityKey team issued over 100 CityKeys to people from campus and the surrounding communities who began lining up well before the start of the Festival. City Clerk Ana Valencia visited to greet the applicants and our Festival participants. 

The day ended with a show-stopping address by Emory Professor Carol Anderson based on her best-selling book One Person, No Vote. Audience members expressed their delight that Carol will return in the Spring Quarter as the Pozen Visiting Professor of Human Rights

The Festival of Human Rights brought together students, faculty, staff, and members of the community to engage with the Pozen Center in a lively and dynamic format, celebrating and focusing on progress, while also acknowledging contemporary problems. The faculty and staff affiliated with the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights look forward to the 80th anniversary of the UDHR a decade from now.