US: AFT and RFK Human Rights launch human rights and democracy programme

published 16 September 2020 updated 17 September 2020

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), working with RFK Human Rights will launch a programme to share lesson plans on human rights and democracy developed by classroom teachers at a webinar on 17 September. The webinar, “Defenders of Human Rights and Democracy in Your Community” will feature AFT President Randi Weingarten, Kerry Kennedy, President of RFK Human Rights, and Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP.

The invitation states, “Coming out of a turbulent summer here in the U.S., when many people were inspired to lend their voices to the cause of fighting for social and racial justice, the AFT and RFK Human Rights are launching a new set of classroom lessons focused on the cause of racial justice and defenders of democracy. These lessons were written by teachers for teachers.  They were designed to ‘meet the moment’ to help students learn from the civil rights struggles of the past and then become more engaged with community activism of today.”

The launch will be held on US Constitution Day and is the beginning of a project to bring social justice, racial equity, and democratic participation into the classroom. Teachers developing the lessons will build them around defenders of democracy who have moved history. Defenders will include legends from before the US Civil War as well as more recent and living leaders.

RFK Human Rights works with local human rights activists around the world, prepares reports, holds conferences, and engages in human rights education. It has worked closely with the AFT for many years. RFK Human Rights is named after Robert F. Kennedy, a US Senator and brother of President Kennedy. He was assassinated while was running for President in 1968. RFK Human Rights was established in that year. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1908. It is the largest and most widely recognised American civil rights organisation. John Dewey, labour educator, philosopher and author (including “Democracy and Education”) and a member of the AFT was on the first board of the NAACP.

EI General Secretary David Edwards, described this initiative as, “an important project that will make a difference at a time when democracy is challenged, and racial strife and polarisation are threatening our values and way of life. The AFT, classroom teachers, and their partners are providing hope for the future. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’”

The webinar will be held at 18:00 Eastern Standard Time in the United States. For information about participation, click here