Hickory – The City of Hickory has proclaimed Monday, December 10 as Human Rights Day and Saturday, December 15 as Bill of Rights Day again this year. The proclamation, read by Mayor Hank Guess on behalf of the Hickory City Council at their meeting on Tuesday night, recognizes the need for individuals and their governments to “take a stand and continue to work together to make freedom, justice and equal opportunity available for all” while encouraging the citizens of Hickory to reflect on the importance of our nation’s history.

Human Rights Day is observed internationally each year on December 10, the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This year marks its 70th anniversary. Bill of Rights Day is observed in the United States every year on December 15, the day the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified in 1791. These occasions are intended to serve as reminders that human rights empower people and are relevant to all of us, every day.

To learn more about the Universal Declaration and the right to education in particular, the Catawba Valley Interfaith Council (CVIC) encourages the public to attend its annual Human Rights Day service at 7:00 pm on Monday, December 10 in Grace Chapel at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory. Bobbie Cavnar, the 2016 State Teacher of the Year for North Carolina, will be their keynote speaker and talk about education as a human right. “Human Rights Day reminds us that our shared humanity is rooted in these universal values and that equality, justice and freedom prevent violence and sustain peace,” said Rabbi Dennis Jones (CVIC President).Drafted by a diverse group of representatives from all regions of the world, including Eleanor Roosevelt who served as the first Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and played an instrumental role in its creation and adoption, the Universal Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations and establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person.

Hansa Mehta of India, an advocate for women’s rights and the only other female delegate to the Commission, is widely credited with changing the phrase “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal” in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Begum Shaista Ikramullah of Pakistan advocated for freedom, equality and choice and championed the inclusion of Article 16, on equal rights in marriage, which she saw as a way to combat child marriage and forced marriage.

CVIC’s annual celebration of Human Rights Day is intended to engage the Catawba Valley community to help promote understanding of how the Universal Declaration empowers us all and to encourage further reflection on the ways that each of us can stand up for rights, every day. CVIC is a local not-for-profit organization of faith-based and secular communities in the Catawba Valley serving as a catalyst for hope and cooperating for the purpose of dialogue, information sharing, and celebration.

Photo: Mayor Hank Guess (left) presents proclamation to Rabbi Dennis Jones and Rev. Cliff Moone.