For the past several months, a group of students from various Jefferson County high schools have been organizing a day of workshops and strategy sessions. The ACLU sponsors the event along with the Muhammad Ali Center and the Americans Who Tell the Truth project.
Michele Hemenway is director of Americans Who Tell the Truth. She says the youth organizers chose the theme “History Repeating Itself” to underscore that civil rights protests of the past are still important.
“Their concern is that if we do not study the lives of individuals in the past and how they solved problems and created social change and social justice that we are doomed to continue repeating those same errors. And that without honest and deliberate conversation about these matters we can expect more of the same,” she says.
The Ali Center will host the conference, which is scheduled for Saturday at 9 a.m. Keynote addresses will be given by Jesselyn Radack, Director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, and Thomas Drake, who was a whistleblower in two congressional investigations related to September 11.
Hemenway says the students are engaged in today’s civil rights dialogue, but it’s not easy to have their voice heard.
“I think it’s very difficult for kids to be taken seriously, even by their own peer group at times is what they tell me. Our hope is that by calling a press conference at the end of this particular youth conference,” she say. “We’re hoping that other members of the press will show up and that the kids can relay their message in a serious manner.”
The conference is free to all participants Students can register for the conference here.