Boston: Human Rights City

Beatrice Bell
Spare Change News

Dottie Stevens and Debbie-Ann Meskimen Ferretti, along with several others joined together in February 2010 to discuss how to have Boston become a Human Rights City. With the work from this union and several events during 2010 and 2011, Boston became a part of the Human Rights City Project on April 20, 2011.

In the summer of 2011, Survivor Inc. and the Human Rights City reached out to agencies throughout Boston using the “Declaration of Human Rights,” which was originally signed by the United Nations back in 1948.

This was just the first step into making Human Rights recognized throughout Boston. On June 21, 2011, Shula Keonig came to Boston and spoke on the importance of Human Rights. Shula Keonig is the recipient of the United Nations Human Rights Award in 2004. From this came the Human Rights Coalition, started in August 2011. This group of organizations joined together to speak on how human rights can be used in resolving issues throughout the city of Boston. The Human Rights Coalition holds a meeting once a month to discuss the current issues that are happening throughout Boston. In January 2012, the Green Rainbow Party of the Human Rights Coalition (run by Mel King) joined Mass Global Action, Project Hunger, Survivors Inc., the Welfare Rights Coalition, DSNI organization and a more recently Women’s International League of Freedom and Peace.

This group has seen the need to grow and reach out to organizations that surround Boston. The group of individuals felt the need to rename Human Rights Coalition to Human Rights City Boston & Beyond.

For several months, I’ve been attending Human Rights City Boston meetings. On July 16th, I went to a meeting at Tent City, and it was very informative. I learned about several upcoming events which they are going to be holding and attending.

Since last year, their main goals have been fighting for people’s right to water and fighting to inform the public about their overall rights as human beings. Earlier this spring, they stepped things up a notch by handing out fliers and getting people to sign a petition which informs people about how they need to support their right to water. The petition was in the form of cards, each a little bigger than your average postcard. People signed the cards, which are going to be sent to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s office.

My son Joshua and I helped get signatures on the cards on the day of the Boston Marathon. We all got signatures that day from people who had come to see the marathon. Some people who signed the cards lived in Boston, Cambridge, further out parts of Massachusetts, California, Virginia, New York, Kansas, Ireland, England, South Africa, Scotland, Germany, France, New Zealand and Australia. It was boiling hot the day of the Boston Marathon, but we as a group did well for the day. Since then, more and more activities have been going on to inform people of their right to water and their other rights.

Human Rights City Boston & Beyond was started when state representative Charles Yancey decided to fight for Boston to become a Human Rights City. I know you’re wondering: what does that mean? It means that Boston is one of a small number of cities around the world that has to stand up and represent you as a citizen in a fair, equal, unprejudiced manner against persons who try to violate your human right to all the necessities to which we are entitled to from birth to the grave.

That means they have to make sure as a city that our right to housing, food, water, clothes, shelter, medical assistance, judicial assistance for the problems that we face — and that such are reasonable for us to afford and be able to achieve (that includes the MBTA). Within the next few weeks and months, members of the Human Rights City Boston & Beyond will join other organizations to inform the residents of Boston that they have Human Rights and just what this means. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has 30 articles that state rights that people have just to survive.

Suren Moodliar, Sandra Ruiz-Harris and Alisa LaSotnik of the Massachusetts Global Action are working on setting up a date and time to sit and talk with the Boston Water & Sewer Commission and they have an event scheduled for August 7 at 6:30 p.m. called “Keep The Water Flowing.” The event is being held in East Boston at the Social Center, 68 Central Square in East Boston. Look for announcements regarding other events this summer, which they are planning to take place in Fields Corner, Dorchester and Dudley Square in Roxbury.

Sky Rose is planning an event called “The State of The Safety Not,” an event in which the youth of Boston have a forum to discuss their problems with how they’re treated in society and how they don’t know what their human rights are. The event is being planned to take place at the Archdale Community Center on Archdale Street in Roslindale, MA. 02131 on September 16, 2012. On August 16-18, the Greater Boston chapter of the Green Rainbow Party will have a table at Greenfest located in Government Center.

We hope that you are able to come and support the fight for the citizens of Boston’s human rights and join Human Rights City Boston & Beyond’s campaign for the human right to water. Human Rights City Boston & Beyond are planning to hold several events from now until December 10, 2012 to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” back in 1948.

Human Rights City Boston & Beyond wants your help in supporting the following goals:

1. Suren Moodlier from Mass Global Action will have a website up and running by the end of August.
2. 2,000 signature cards will be signed and submitted to Debbie by August 20, 2012.
3. Finally, our next meeting will be on September 27, 2012 at Tent City. Debbie is going to ask Mel King to set up the ability for Human Rights City Boston & Beyond to meet there on that August 27, and every 4th Thursday. After that, please join us.

BEATRICE BELL is a Spare Change News writer and vendor.

Beatrice Bell is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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