Support Innovation in HRE

HRE USA  is excited to announce the creation of the  Flowers Fund.  Established in honor of Nancy Flowers, the fund will be used continue her legacy of innovation and mentorship in human rights education.  Please consider contributing today to help us advocate for and further develop programming that supports human rights education and our ultimate goal of making human rights a reality in each community.

>> Donate Now

John Brown Day Celebration and Anti-Racism Symposium

When: Saturday October 14, 2017
Where: Woodstock Union High School  Woodstock, Vermont
Cost: $10-20 sliding-scale registration fee includes breakfast

On 5 May of this year, the Vermont legislature adopted a concurrent resolution “designating October 16, 2017 as John Brown Day in Vermont.” To commemorate the day, the Woodstock Social Justice Initiative is hosting a Brown celebration and anti-racism event in Woodstock, Vermont on the October 14th aimed at empowering community members with the understanding and tools needed to take action against racism. Several renowned experts on Brown, abolitionism and anti-abolitionism in Vermont and New Hampshire will be presenting, as will local educators who will demonstrate how they teach about Brown and other controversial figures.

Continuing education credits will be available.

>> Learn more
>> Register for event


By Ellen V. Moore

In 1987, while I was co-director of Amnesty International USA’s Urgent Action Program, I began the monthly AIKids’ Urgent Action Program for youngsters ages 9-14 years old. For decades, our UA Office in Nederland, Colorado sent out casesheets to teachers, parents, scout troops, Sunday Schools, individual young people often about youngsters facing human rights abuses in Africa, South and Central America, in Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Sometimes a casesheet would lay out details of the arrest of a union activist and his children who were with him at a rally.  Sometimes Amnesty was asking for letters to a government official who, with the stroke of a pen, could ensure the release of a medical rights pediatrician in Pakistan who was being threatened along with her family members, for speaking out at demonstrations about the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights article defining basic medical care as a basic human right.

I shared the AIKids’ Urgent Action with my UA colleagues in London and AI United Kingdom almost immediately began its own effort at youth letter-writing, The Junior Urgent Action.  Shortly, AICanada’s Urgent Action Program Director Marilyn McKim began the LifeSaver geared for students from 4th to ninth grades.  Every year, another AI Section either began using the AIKids’ UAs or the youth casesheets from Canada or the United Kingdom, and throughout Central and Latin America AI Sections began using the Spanish language casesheets produced by a Spanish language teacher in Colorado, Maya Meis.

There has always been debate, in education in general and among Amnesty International human rights educators about when and if to introduce students to human rights issues and especially to human rights abuses worldwide.  As I reviewed copies of children’s letter sent to me over many decades from teachers, parents, scout leaders, and young students themselves, I became convinced that in many, even most, instances young letter writers were profoundly empowered by advocacy letter-writing because “doing something” about human rights appears to have empowered the young writers to “Speak truth to power.”

Hundreds of letters written by children using the AIKids’ Urgent Action casesheets are now part of the AIUSA Archives at Columbia University’s Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research which preserves the papers of a dozen human rights organizations and many dozen individual human rights activists worldwide but especially from the United States.

Though AIUSA no longer produces the monthly AIKids’ Urgent Actions, it is of huge comfort to me that both AI Canada and AI United Kingdom continue their monthly letter-writing programs for students with all this implies about students learning that they need not passively learn of human rights abuses daily on the web and on television or in film but they too can take action to speak out to persons in authority urging a halt to unacceptable government collusion in internationally-condemned behaviors against minorities, women, the elderly, children, ethnic groups and refugees.

As part of the international AI Write for Rights December Celebration of the UDHR, there will be and has always been, a case specially written for young letter-writers.  This casesheet is not only for young writers, but new English speakers, persons in literacy classes, families who want to write together to honor the December 10, 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Celebrate the UDHR in your home or your classroom, your school or church by letter-writing with a youngster.  Better to light a candle, than curse the darkness; “Write a letter, change a life.”

Ellen V. Moore worked at Amnesty International for over 30 years as the Urgent Action Program Coordinator and has also served on the Board of Directors at Amnesty International USA.

Call to Action #StopRepeatingHistory

More than 70 years ago, three cases were heard before the Supreme Court of the United States, challenging the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans.  The Supreme Court majority ruled against the three plaintiffs, Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, and Fred Korematsu,  essentially “rubber-stamping” the military’s bald assertion that the mass round-up was reasonable and necessary. In doing so, the Court abdicated its critical role in safeguarding fundamental freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.

The children of Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, and Fred Korematsu filed an amicus brief on September 18th in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Executive Order No. 13780, the Trump administration’s travel ban on nationals from six Muslim-majority nations, pointing to the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII as an urgent warning against presidential powers run amok.

Human Rights Educators USA is joining the nationwide campaign to #StopRepeatingHistory. We encourage you to add your name to this call to action.

>> Learn more and join the campaign

Defend DACA

To rally support for the over 800,000 young people who would be negatively impacted by a repeal of DACA, ARTE (Art and Resistance Through Education) has shared the following ways we can all take action:

5-10 minute action: Please call the White House today and tell them that “we need to protect and preserve DACA!” The direct link to the comment line can be found here.

15-30 minute action: Here is a list of a few other actions that you can take, ranging from contacting your member of Congress to using social media.

Actions for Educators:
Contribute to the ARTE social media campaign, #ThankYouForBeingHereMore details are available here. Please share widely!

#DefendDACA New York City teach-in: In collaboration with the Art Education Department at City College, ARTE is sponsoring an resource sharing / teach-in to strategize how to teach art in defense of DACA. Please join us at on Wednesday, September 13th from 5:30-7:30pm at Shepard Hall Room 303 (third floor, please bring a photo ID). Friends and family members of all ages are welcome!

National curriculum call: Please join us on a 60-minute call as we will be discussing the ways that we can create a curriculum around immigration history, the history / defense of DACA/DREAM Act, and the work of immigrant artists and activists. We want to also create a space where educators can share resources on how to protect and keep our undocumented youth communities safe in the aftermath of the decision to end DACA. Sign-up form and details on the call (Monday, September 11 at 8:30pm EST) can be found here.

Can’t join the teach-in or the call? Please feel free to contribute resources to the following collaborative document, which will be an open-sourced curriculum and resource list for educators, activists, artists, and others.

>> Learn More

Responding to Charlottesville

Charlottesville has shaken the nation. As human rights educators, it is incumbent on us to address events like Charlottesville and especially their root causes within our classes. As Education Week Teacher Christina Torres wrote, it is essential for teachers to have honest conversations with students about racism and white supremacy.

“We must teach our students that the ‘history’ of these events is far from ‘past’ and ‘passed.’ The history our students face now is a very living thing that we must learn about in order to affect change for our future. As many of us prepare to return to our classrooms, we don’t just need to buy flowers and make bulletin boards. We need to prepare and read resources that help us make space in our classrooms to discuss these events. We need to ensure that we treat our students’ stories and the stories happening right now as a very real, living thing that our kids have the ability to change. They deserve that knowledge. They deserve that power.”

To help educators respond to the explicit hatred and violence experienced in Charlottesville and establish a safe and tolerant classroom for the coming year, HRE USA has developed the below collection of resources from our partner organizations.

For further resources, be sure to follow the twitter chat using the hashtag #CharlottesvilleCurriculum.


Confederate Monuments and Their Removal
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson provides students an opportunity to learn more about Confederate monuments and the recent push to remove them. It encourages them to reflect on their own points of view about the issue while exploring others’ positions.

Helping Students Make Sense of News Stories About Bias and Injustice
Grade Level: All
Practical suggestions, strategies, and resources.

Swastikas and Other Hate Symbols
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson provides asks students to reflect on the importance of symbols in our society, understand more about specific hate symbols, and identify strategies for responding to and eliminating hate symbols.


“The Alt-Right Curriculum: Teachers are facilitating conversations with students about white nationalism”
Grade Level: 9-12
An article and video describing a classroom lesson focusing on an articulate Alt-Rights leader and his views.


Values and Public Policy
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson in the “Teaching with the News” series explores the role of values in civic life and political beliefs. Students are asked to explore values as a way to understand the views of others, find common ground where it exists, and work together to find ways to form policy.


Breaking Down Hate Speech
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson offers strategies for creating a school community culture in which hate speech is unacceptable, both online and offline.


In 2016 the Council of Europe launched the No Hate Speech Movement campaign to mobilize young people for human rights online and to combat hate speech, one of the most worrying forms of racism and discrimination prevailing that is amplified by the Internet and social media.

WE CAN: Taking Action against Hate Speech through Counter and Alternative Narratives (2017)
This manual challenges and exposes the nature of hate speech: prejudicial views on social groups combined with fake news which feed phobias and fears, seem attractive as narratives. It examines how narratives give a meaning to information because they connect with what people believe, or want to believe in. Also available in French.

Bookmarks – A manual for combating hate speech online through human rights education (Revised edition, 2016)
Bookmarks addresses hate speech online from a human rights perspective, both inside and outside the formal education system. The manual is designed for working with learners aged 13 to 18 but the activities can be adapted to other age ranges. Also available in French.


After Charlottesville: Contested History and the Fight Against Bigotry
Grade Level: 7-12
Students consider the power of historical symbols as they investigate the 2015 controversy over the Confederate flag in South Carolina and then draw connections to the violence in Charlottesville.

My Part of the Story: Exploring Identity in the United States
Grade Level: 7-12
This new unit, “challenges students to define their own identity and their relationship to society as a whole. Seven lessons explore what America means to young people and how this country is the product of many individual voices; the concept of identity and the names, labels, and stereotypes that create it; and finally how students own agency create their identities.  Essential Question: What is the identity of the United States, and how do I fit into it?

Preparing Students for Difficult Conversations
Grade Level: 7-12
Originally prepared from a unit on “Facing Ferguson,” this lesson is equally applicable to Charlottesville. It lays the lay the foundation for a safe and reflective classroom where students feel they can speak honestly about these sensitive issues.

Webinar Resources for Teaching After Charlottesville
Grade Level: All
Online webinar that features resources, strategies, tips, and content to help teachers: organize the classroom space for safety, prepare your students for difficult conversations, provide context about the history of Nazi Germany and its ideology, and provide historical context on the legacy of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction in the U.S.


The First Amendment: What’s Fair in a Free Country?
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson demonstrates that freedom of speech is an ongoing process and that balancing rights and responsibilities is difficult, even for the Supreme Court.


These lessons from this well-known center for social justice education are especially relevant post-Charlottesville.

Students Fighting Racism
Grade Level: 3-5
Essential Question: Why is it important for me to stand up for others and myself?

Hate has no place in these halls; together we can change it.
Grade Level: 9-12
Essential Question: What is the difference between feeling proud and feeling superior?

Social Justice – Diversity
Grade Level: 9-12
Essential Question: How do we connect in meaningful ways with people who are different from us?

Social Justice
Grade Level: 9-12
Essential Question: What does it mean to say that there is strength in diversity?

Ten Ways to Fight Hate
Grade Level: All
A guide by the Southern Poverty law Center that sets out 10 principles for fighting hate in your community.

Understanding Myself and the World I Live in Now
Grade Level: 9-12
Essential Question: How do our intersecting identities shape our perspectives and the way we experience the world?

Safe Zone School Districts

A pragmatic approach to immigration is critical for our students –the center of our communities. All students should have the opportunity to learn without the fear and distress that results from harsh immigration enforcement. Educators are witnessing the impact of this trauma on our students, their families and our communities firsthand.

NEA has developed sample resolution and district policy that can be used as a template or guidance for local school districts to create their own Safe Zones resolutions. The language is closely tied to the Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe which is the foundational precedent establishing that access to K-12 education is a civil right. The model resolution contains reassurances for students, procedures for law enforcement, and information and support for families and staff. Several school districts across the country have passed their own safe zone resolutions. Click on the map above to see where school districts have passed or are considering Safe Zones policies.