Inspiring the Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders

SOURCE: Discovery Education


In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which defines the basic human rights of all people. Today, factors prevent individuals from exercising their human rights. From global health crises, like COVID-19, to slavery, racial justice, and climate change, there are individuals around the world working to protect and defend the human rights we all share.

Named as “defenders” by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK), the stories of these activists both educate and empower future generations of human rights defenders. Educators can now Integrate lessons about human rights into classroom activities with resources, like the Interactive Defenders Map. This map is part of Speak Truth to Power, a global initiative from RFK and Discovery Education dedicated to sharing the stories of human rights defenders around the world that engage and inspire the next generation of activists through no-cost and standards-aligned digital content.

Travel the globe to hear from courageous individuals, like those listed here, about how they are working to fight systemic injustice for the betterment of humanity: 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Health & Well-Being Activist

“I think, collectively, we should be paying more attention to what is going on around us in the world among people who don’t have the advantages that we have.”

Now well known for his work on human rights related to the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Fauci also made seminal contributions to the understanding of HIV, as well as critical research on immune-mediated and infectious diseases.

Van Jones, Police Reform Activist

“Now you standing up by yourself don’t make a ... bit of difference in the rational world. You’re just one fool standing up. But if you’ve ever seen a standing ovation? It starts with one fool standing up. And then pretty soon the whole stadium is standing up.”  

Van is well-respected for his transformative activism and research on police brutality and climate change as connected to race. His activism took a turn towards environmental justice–the idea that all people deserve to live in a safe, unpolluted environment regardless of race or class. His work undergirds Black Lives Matter.

Greta Thunberg, Climate Change Activist

“There is hope―I've seen it―but it does not come from the governments or corporations, it comes from the people. The people who have been unaware are now starting to wake up, and once we become aware, we change.”

A 17-year-old Swedish climate activist who is known for her direct and confrontational calls for immediate action to address the climate crisis, Greta Thunberg culls global attention to climate change through grassroots activism and youth engagement.

Joshua Wong, Political Rights Defender  

“We long to have a home where civil freedoms are respected, where our children will not be subject to mass surveillance, abuse of human rights, political censorship and mass incarceration.”

In 2012, Joshua rallied more than 100,000 people to protest against government plans to implement mandatory "patriotic education" in schools. In 2014, he was a leader of Hong Kong’s famous Umbrella Movement, which advocated for more open and transparent elections. 

Rana Husseini, Honor Killings & Women’s Rights Activist  

“I want to be a credible source, raise awareness, give hope to women, give solutions, and document cases and efforts around the world.”

Rana has exposed honor crimes in Jordan and campaigned for stronger legal penalties against perpetrators. Her work led to the formation of the National Jordanian Committee to Eliminate so-called Crimes of Honor and influenced the 2007 fatwa, a ruling, in Jordan stating that honor killings are against religious law.  

Students can now travel the world from the safety of their home through the Interactive Defender Map, seeing the connections of human rights globally and locally across myriads of topics and issues. By understanding human rights through the stories of life-changing activists from around the world, students are empowered to advocate for human rights at home. For, together, we can build a better world with respect for the basic rights shared by all people.

Tweet me: Empower students to take on human rights issues by learning from human rights defenders around the world about what it means to #SpeakTruthToPower: @RFKHumanRights & @DiscoveryEd

KEYWORDS: discovery education, NYSE:DISCA, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Interactive Defenders Map, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Inspiring the Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders

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