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, 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