Professor Howard Justin Hansford Hosts June 19th Celebration and Community Forum
WASHINGTON – Justin Hansfordgeneral manager of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University, hosted a community forum and June 19th celebration. The event served as an introduction to the new United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent, to which Hansford was elected last year. Forum members include representatives from the United States, Colombia, Costa Rica, Bahamas, Saint Lucia, Kenya, Cameroon, Egypt, Sweden and China. The event was co-sponsored by the DC International Student House and the Ralph J. Bunche Center for International Affairs at Howard University.
According to Hansford, the United Nations Permanent Forum should “serve as a voice, serve as a platform and serve as a helping hand for people trying to promote the human rights of people of African descent around the world”. Focused on the United States, Canada, and continental Europe, one of Hansford’s main goals as a forum member is to fix slavery, Jim Crow, and colonialism.
Leaders of civil rights organizations in the DMV area were invited to learn about the permanent forum and how to use it to voice their issues. Special guests included Daniel Bremer-WirtigExecutive Director of the International Student House and Michelle Thoren Bond, former Assistant Secretary of State and First Vice Chairman of the House Board. Panelists included Clarence Lusanneprofessor of political science at Howard University; Marcia Johnson Blancoco-director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Voting Rights Project; Oudodilim Nnamdi, international human rights lawyer; and Chakera ErvinHoward law student and intern at the Thurgood Marshall Center.
“What the forum allows us is to have a collective conversation as people of African descent around the world about how we are perceived in our countries. We must no longer be alone in front of the UN, but we can build a collective voice,” Blanco said.
The celebration featured African drumming by Khem Sa Ra as well as Caribbean dishes from Crown Bakery and American soul food. After the presentations and a brief Q&A period, the panelists led breakout sessions with members of the community. They talked about the needs of their communities and the results they want to see from the permanent forum.
Speaking of youth involvement, junior rising at Howard University Obrian Rosario, stressed the importance of giving students opportunities to occupy positions of power and support their career paths. “The program I’m in pays for my accommodation and transportation, but not everyone is blessed with the same opportunity,” he said. “Young people need compensation to participate, so if you want them to be involved, you have to help bring them to the table.”
As part of the permanent forum’s mandate, Hansford will continue to host community events leading up to the annual United Nations meeting in November. The forum will also hold a press conference next month to officially announce the creation of the forum. For more information, visit the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center website here.
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private research university comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students follow more than 140 study programs leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to excellence in truth and service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Scholars, and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard is also producing more African-American doctorates on campus. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visitwww.howard.edu.
Media contact: Brittany Bailer; [email protected]