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Kean’s Virtual Human Rights Conference Explores Voting Amid Chaotic Election Season

Kean University’s 13th annual Human Rights Institute Conference, launching today in a virtual, online format, explores the topic VOTE: Human Rights in Action.

Click here to visit the VOTE: Human Rights in Action Human Rights Institute Conference

Postponed from March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference takes on added significance in a fall election season punctuated by the tumultuous presidential election battle.

“The timing is just right as we turn our attention to one of the most important issues facing us right now — voting,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s taught us the power of voting. That lesson is very clear today as we continue the fight for equity and justice in this country. We must turn our principles into action at the ballot box and ensure all voices are heard.”

The Human Rights Institute Conference is organized by Kean’s Human Rights Institute (HRI), an organization that works to shine a light on human rights issues and inspire the next generation of social justice activists and leaders. HRI is currently spearheading the University’s Voting Squad, a team of Kean student and faculty volunteers working to register all eligible voters at Kean.

“Never before has it been so important to talk about the long battle for the right to vote, and to acknowledge the lives lost and damaged in its pursuit,” said HRI Director Lauretta A. Farrell, D.Litt. “We come together to honor their fight.”

The VOTE: Human Rights in Action conference includes four pre-recorded, on-demand segments.Taking place during National Voter Education Week, the conference is suitable for community groups to use for voter education, as well as educators to use in class or as assignments. It can be viewed all together or in segments. To take part, visit the website.

Experts chosen for their commitment to human rights and democracy will speak on the history of voting rights in the United States; the challenges faced today; and the role of young people in securing democracy. Discussion questions, age-appropriate curriculum and other video segments are also included. 

The speakers for VOTE: Human Rights in Action include:

  • Henal Patel, Esq., Director of Democracy and Justice Program, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
  • Usjid Hameed, Government Affairs and Development Director, CAIR-Ohio, and former Puffin Democracy Fellow, Andrew Goodman Foundation
  • Ari Berman, author, Give Us the Ballot

In addition, a number of human rights award recipients will be recognized during the Conference. Recent Kean graduate Patrick McEachern ’20, now a student at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, will be named Outstanding Student Rights Activist.

Each of the three conference speakers will also be recognized with awards for their human rights activism.