Tickets Are On Sale Now!

 

The GRAMMY Museum, in partnership with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, will celebrate the launch of their Speak Up, Sing Out songwriting contest with The Concert For Social Justice on April 8, 2015, at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. Jackson Browne, David Crosby & Graham Nash, Melissa Etheridge, and Tom Morello are the first performers announced for the concert, which will also feature special performances from actors Dennis Haysbert, Catherine Keener, Martin Sheen, and Alfre Woodard, and the winner(s) of the Speak Up, Sing Out songwriting contest.

  Tickets can be purchased here:

 

 http://www.grammymuseum.org/events/detail/the-concert-for-social-justice 

 

 

There is still time to submit a song for our Speak Up Sing Out: Songs of Conscience Speak Truth To Power Music Contest. The deadline for entries is March 15. Visit www.speakupsingout.org for more information.

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Charlie Hebdo Attacks Lend Urgency to Speak Truth To Power Trainings


                                    Journalist Martin Schibbye sharing his story

The Speak Truth To Power teacher workshop scheduled to take place on the morning of January 7 in Stockholm wasn't supposed to be particularly different from any other. More than 75 teachers were signed up, and they were scheduled to hear from Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye, who had been imprisoned in Ethiopia.

But then news of a tragedy struck: twelve journalists had been killed at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, lending a new urgency to Schibbye's remarks on the importance of the right to free expression.

Faced with an unsettling reminder of the fragility of human rights around the world, all 75 teachers pledged to bring the Speak Truth To Power curriculum to their schools, committing themselves to building a global citizenry of young people dedicated to a world that respects the human rights of each individual.

TEACHERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

 

 

Meet Karen Sklaire, one of our STTP Lead Educators who is passionate about human rights and the arts, and creator of our wonderful STTP theatre lesson.

 

1) What about Speak Truth To Power inspires you?

The first thing that hooked me was the name -- speaking the truth about what's really happening in the world- bringing it out in the open with the power of knowledge.  Even though we are surrounded by news and media about what's happening in the world -- because it's not happening in front of our eyes -- it may not feel real.  STTP allows us to dig deep into human rights issues that absolutely relate to our personal lives today.  It forces one to see all the violations of human rights all around the world (many of which are in this country) and inspires you to want to be a part of the movement.  The stories from the defenders are moving, deep and incredibly inspiring. Our students need to know what is happening in their world so they can be future defenders and that's exciting!

 

2) As an elementary school teacher, do you think the subject matter of STTP is too much for the youngest learners?

 Human Rights begin at the most basic level -- the right to education, the right to free speech, the right to safety, food, water, shelter.  There are many children who don't have a home because of poverty, or come to school hungry because they aren't getting the proper nutrition, there are children who are abused and subjected to unimaginable violence and mistreatment. It's never too early to bring awareness to what's happening in their world.  The more they become aware, the less room there is for discrimination and misunderstandings. Knowledge is a powerful tool. There are subjects that the children will not understand, but topics such as bullying are at the forefront of education as schools are bringing in bullying prevention programs. STTP provides this education and more. 

 

3) How do you bring the concepts of STTP and human rights into your classroom?

As a theater teacher, I begin with group work -- creating a safe environment for ensemble work.  We are always talking about how to treat everyone equally. For the little ones we read stories such as The Ugly Duckling, The Tortoise and the Hare, and the Henny Penny- discussing how and why these characters are treated differently, then creating and acting out different scenarios on how to become more compassionate and empathetic to those who are different than us. We discuss the basic human rights and write original plays as a class about preventing bullying and helping others.  For the older kids we devise theater pieces based on some of the readings of defenders of human rights.  My fifth grade class is now writing a play about International Peace Day and how they can get more involved outside of the classroom and become defenders.

 

4) How do you see the play Voices From Beyond the Dark, based on the STTP book, serving as a base for human rights learning?

It is one thing to read a story about a woman who was sold into slavery at a very young age, escaped and dedicated her life to freeing other victims.  It is another thing to step into her shoes and become her. Theatre is so powerful in that way. Students are more likely to not only retain that information by using all of their senses -- imagination, emotions, physical attributes and movement of these characters (defenders), but it propels them into wanting to take action (whether it is for that particular story or just to get involved in any sort of human rights movement).  I truly believe this is a springboard and an opening into the discussion of human rights.  This is my experience not only as an actor, but when I was going through the institute -- the play is what resonated the most for me (and when I taught a theatre lesson to the teachers at the institute -- many felt it resonated strongly with them). Education has to come from all sorts of different directions because there are so many different types of learners.  Theater is an excellent way to get kids on their feet, involved and really invested in the subject.

 

5) What would you say to a teacher who is unsure about bringing STTP and theatre techniques into their classroom?

Don't be afraid to try something new!  These defenders put themselves on the line to create change.  Try something new.  As I said before -- theater provides the platform to engage the students to want to know more. The lessons I have developed are very simple exercises that anyone can use in their classroom not just for the purpose of learning about these defenders, but for working on ensemble and teamwork within a classroom. They get everyone involved.  Each student has a role and it's fun.  Theater is one of many techniques used to engage and involve.  It can be used with social studies, history, and even math and science.  You don't have to be trained as a theater teacher to develop characters or take on the emotion of another human being.  We do these things in the classroom already- this is just a way to enhance what you're teaching.

 

6) Last thoughts?

I really believe when I met Kerry Kennedy years ago and she introduced me to Karen, a new door had been opened.  I have always wanted to make a difference and inspire my students, but the work of STTP created a whole new journey for me.  It has made me a more compassionate person and has inspired me to not think so small.  It is so thrilling to watch kids get excited about creating change in this world and there is something so cool about being a vehicle to guide them on that journey.  Bringing the arts into this conversation is essential. And I'm so excited STTP is taking it on!

 

STUDENTS TAKING ACTION  
 

This letter comes to us from a high school student in Los Angeles after participating in a reading of the STTP Play, Voices From Beyond The Dark as
as part of her Literature Analysis class. 
We love receiving letters from students sharing how STTP had a tranformative effect on them.

 

 

REFLECTION

 

In my honest and foremost opinion, I did not favor this class at all. I signed up for neither Theatre nor Humanities. I felt like the whole assignment was a waste of time and I wasn't leaning anything prominent for my future years in education. I didn't want to participate in any of the activities; I became lazy and ignorant. Every activity literally pissed me off. I couldn't care less about what we were going to do during 4th period. I hated every aspect of this project. I didn't find beneficial factors or even tried to find any. Then I met Hafez Abu Sa'ada.  A man who I couldn't even find on Wikipedia, a man who was pushed through a window and scarred for the sake of human rights in Egypt, a man who was silenced and forgotten, a man who was a hero. At first I simply read the words without any interest whatsoever. But as I read the small paragraph over and over, I finally understood. I was able to open my blocked ears to the shouts and cries of those who sacrificed themselves for the sake of others. These people were the unsung heroes of the world, who fought with all their heart. When I was reciting the script, I felt that if I don't portray these words with the same passion and courage they had, I was trampling over their dignity. So I began to think about my character more and tried to be inside the shoes of Hafez Abu Sa'ada; to find the voice. On the day we performed, I closed my eyes and repeated words once more, preserving the voice. I was nervous and felt like I was going to mess up. But if I was scared silly by simply reciting a couple of lines in front of my friends, how nerve-wrecking would it have been to bear the responsibility of all of Egypt? "I am not frightened". I felt honored. It was been an incredible experience; unforgettable.

 

 
 
If you or one of your students would like to share how STTP has impacted you or them, please email your letters Karen Robinson at  Robinson@rfkhumanrights.org .  They sure do make us happy!

 

 

FOCUS LESSON

JOHN LEWIS 

 

One of the most courageous people the Civil Rights Movement ever produced, Congressman John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he described as "The Beloved Community" in America.  By 1963, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and by the age of twenty-three, was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington.  Attended by over 250,000 people, it was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation's capital.  Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence.

 

He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District since then.

 

Click here for his lesson:  http://curriculum.rfkcenter.org/curriculums/10?locale=en

STTP: GET INVOLVED NOW


2015 STTP SUMMER INSTITUTES: 
 It is never too early to schedule your summer plans! Start planning now to join us at one of our 2015 institutes! If you would like to be on our STTP Summer Institute list, please contact Karen Robinson at  robinson@rfkhumanrights.org  


 

Washington, DC

6, 7, 8 July

Memphis, TN

27, 28, 29 July

Chicago, IL

24, 25, 26 July

Austin, TX

27, 28, 29 July

Los Angeles, CA

27, 28, 29 July

Minneapolis, MN

10, 11, 12 August

Bay Area, CA

13, 14, 15 August

New York City, NY

18, 19, 20 August


 

DEFENDER DAY

We want to join you in recognizing the contributions of individuals in your community who work to advance human rights.  Acts big or small, very local or international - every act that promotes, protects or defends human rights - we want to recognize and celebrate those acts and those people.

 

Nominate your local human rights defender!!


 

Nominations

To nominate an individual to be recognized as a Human Rights Defender, just download the form by clicking the link here.  Complete the form and email it to Karen Robinson at robinson@rfkhumanrights.org or Jenny Girardi at girardi@rfkhumanrights.org, or mail it to Jenny Girardi at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, 1300 19th St NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC, 20036!


 

NOMINATIONS ACCEPTED FROM:  JANUARY 1, 2015 - APRIL 1, 2015

DEFENDER DAY:   APRIL 11, 2015