Idaho Promotes Equal Rights on the World Wide Web

By Walter, Shane | Nation's Cities Weekly, September 10, 2001 | Go to article overview

Idaho Promotes Equal Rights on the World Wide Web


Walter, Shane, Nation's Cities Weekly


Fourth in a series of stories discussing how different State Leagues have used the last year to combat racism. The series will lead up to Race Equality Day on September 19.

The Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) has done plenty over the last year (and then some) to help put a stop to racism in its communities. Take a look at its new website proof.

Launched in February, the AIC's Human Rights website -- at www.idahocities.org/human -- rights. htm -- gives visitors a first-hand glimpse of how Idaho has been working to rid itself of racism and hate crimes. The AICs Human Rights Campaign opens the website with a mission statement, promising to promote, "awareness and discussion of local and statewide human dignity issues among our municipal and community leaders to integrate human rights considerations into municipal consciousness and decision-making."

"It's still a work in progress," said Michael Shaw, AIC's Human Rights coordinator, of the web page. "Part of our goal there is to provide a clearinghouse of information concerning human rights. Idaho is such an enormous state geographically that it's hard to communicate to a large body of people. This way, we're able to tell people what's happening at one place."

The website offers a description of what's trying to be accomplished in the AIC human rights campaign as well as a campaign history of all of the major events and achievements to date, including:

* The original workshop in 1999 hosted by Greg Carr, an Idaho Falls native who founded the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. The workshop focused on human rights awareness in Idaho, including hate groups, Idaho's image and cultural tensions.

* The summer 2000 conference in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, whose theme was building healthy communities. Talks included issues on state, national and international human rights as well as youth asset building and difficult conversations. The state's human rights task force also was started at this conference, as was a resolution promising, among other things, to make Idaho, "a place where people feel a sense of belonging and fellowship."

* The events of November 2000. A human rights summit was held in Burley, Idaho November 3. Carr, U.S. Senator Michael Crapo and Deputy U.S. Attorney Monte Stiles joined hundreds of kids to sing positive songs. A November 10-11 steering committee met to discuss program initiatives, specifically their mission, goals and priorities, including training, surveys and community awareness.

The website also offers an events calendar, useful links and resources, articles on human rights and a link entitled, "Inspiration," which consists of art or poems or stories by Idaho students.

"We want to get down to the basics of what really matters," Shaw said. "And from what I've seen, folks have been very prominent, from the state governor on down. Diversity is now a high priority."

It wasn't always that way in Idaho. A state where 90 percent of the residents are white, Shaw said the state's image is something that the Human Rights campaign has focused on greatly. …

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