Tuesday, 31 March 2009 16:49

Human Rights Walkathon Featured

Written by  Heidi Lux
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The Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet at the Human Rights Walkathon - Photo by Ian Phoenix
The Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet at the Human Rights Walkathon - Photo by Ian Phoenix

St. Petersburg, FL (March 2009) - On Saturday, March 7th, the cities of Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa came together to proclaim Human Rights Walkathon Day. Human rights are “the rights you have simply because you are human”, regardless or race, religion or gender.  Everyone is entitled to them simply because they are human beings.

In honor of basic human rights, such as, “the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association,” and “the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community,” people from many diverse groups, backgrounds and religions all unite in the common and greater goal of championing for universal rights and fighting against the loss of them. The group Youth for Human Rights International passed out DVDs explaining the 30 human rights as set forth in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  A member of the Baha’i faith encouraged people to contact their congressmen to stand up for the Baha’i as they are being held captive in Iran for no other reason than the fact they belong to the Baha’i faith.

People from all walks of life march for a common cause – Human Rights for all! - Photo by David Ziff
People from all walks of life march for a common cause – Human Rights for all! - Photo by David Ziff

On December 10th, 1948, the United Nations declared the thirty human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “They are the foundation of building goodwill between people,” says Linda Drazkowski, the founder and chairman of the Walkathon. She founded the Walkathon because, “This is my planet. I want a species that treats each other with tolerance and respect.”

The Walkathon itself began promptly at 9am. Each step taken around North Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg was a stride towards a world in which “men and women…have the right to marry and to found a family,” and “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”

The entertainment included performances from The Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet, The Alumni Singers and The Empyreal Chinese Acrobats.  Additionally, there were speeches by Anna I. Rodriquez, the founder and director of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, the founder of The Youth for Human Rights International and gregarious former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, James M. Evans, the founder and Executive Director of The Academy of Hope.

Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, founder of Youth for Human Rights International - Photo by Ian Phoenix
Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, founder of Youth for Human Rights International - Photo by Ian Phoenix

Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, who founded the Youth for Human Rights International, an organization which educates the youth on their basic human rights, says many people lose their human rights simply because they are uniformed on what they are, or they are not taking responsibility for their human rights. This responsibility is the hub that holds the wheel of human rights together. “No responsibility, no human rights. It’s that simple.” She began her work in human rights because she saw discrimination and lack of human rights while growing up in apartheid South Africa. “That’s not the way to go. That’s not the way to peace”.

James Evans, who walked nine laps that sunny day stated, “Each of those laps represented someone who was being trafficked,” he says. “Human beings – their lives have meaning. When we take that away from someone it says they’re worthless.” But he is optimistic of living in a better world. “We never give up in America. We keep fighting.”

For more information about the Human Rights Walkathon go to www.humanrightswalkathon.org


Read 1105 times Last modified on Thursday, 02 April 2009 13:33

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