ISU to host fifth annual Human Rights Day

April 10 2006

Nationally prominent experts who have a wealth of experience in working with human rights issues headline the roster for the fifth annual Terre Haute Human Rights Day Thursday, April 13 at Indiana State University.

The opening reception and introductions begin at 8:30 a.m. in Hulman Memorial Student Union, Dede I.

Bettie Davis, well known as "Mother Bettie" in the Terre Haute area, will be honored as the Indiana National Treasure. Davis has served as a Girl Scout leader and foster grandparent. She is involved in the Underground Railroad re-enactment group and the Sisters of Providence Anti-Racism Team. She also is active in the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and is chairwoman of the Women in the NAACP group.

Sister Mary Scullion, a Sister of Mercy from Merion, Pa., near Philadelphia, will give the keynote presentation on "Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Homelessness," which follows this year's program theme of poverty with focus on The Right to an Adequate Standard of Living (Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

Scullion is president and co-founder of Philadelphia?s H.O.M.E (Housing, Opportunities, Medical Care, Education). She has been branded Philadelphia's "Joan of Arc" for being a tireless advocate for the rights of homeless people. She has participated in coalition-building and litigation to secure shelter and voting rights for the homeless.

Kirk Bloodworth makes a return visit to the program. Bloodworth was imprisoned for eight years and spent two years on Death Row in Maryland for a crime he did not commit. He will speak on "Guilty Until Proven Innocent: DNA and the Death Penalty." He was the first Death Row prisoner to be exonerated by DNA evidence. He was granted a full pardon.

Francisco Jim鮥z, a professor in Santa Clara University's Department of Modern Languages and Literature, will speak on "Why I Write." He is an award-winning author who has written about his life experiences of working along side his parents in fields in Mexico. Some of his works are published in several languages. His stories are included in more than 100 textbooks and anthologies of literature.

boona cheema is executive Director of BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency)in Alameda County, Calif. Her non-profit organization serves economically challenged people with disabilities and special needs through programs and strategies that are now national models. She is a native of India. The title of her presentation is "Helping Themselves."

Robert Egger, president and founder of the DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C., will discuss "More than a Handout - Jobs and Food." He is a former businessman and once served as the interim executive vice president of the United Way of the National Capital Area. Egger usually brings a message about transforming good intentions into effective action.

Numerous local organizations are participating in the annual event. Presentations will be offered by White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods; Terre Haute NAACP Youth Council; and Amnesty International, Terre Haute North Vigo High School chapter. A debate will occur between the Rose-Hulman Unity group and the ISU Great Ideas Philosophy Club, "Poverty - It's Not a Game" is sponsored by the ISU Social Work Department, and an art exhibit will be on display featuring creative responses to the subject of poverty through the eyes of Wabash Valley high school and middle school students.

A March Against Hate will end the day at 4:45 p.m. Focus of the march will be to demonstrate a commitment to act against hatred, discrimination and intolerance. The ban "Close Enough to Jazz" will entertain at Dede Plaza after the march.

There are 15 community partners who help with the year-round planning, along with 16 academic departments.

For a complete list of Human Rights Day activities, a schedule, more information about speakers and lists of sponsoring partners, visit

-30- Contact:Charles Norman, associate professor, sociology, (812) 237-3433 or

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Story Highlights

ISU will host the fifth annual Terre Haute Human Rights Day observance. This year's theme is "The Right to an Adequte Standard of Living."

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