Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Human Rights and Genealogy

Blog Action Day is a "free annual event, that has run since 2007. Its aim is to unite the world’s bloggers by posting about the same issue, on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a positive global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all, raises awareness or even funds for not-for-profits associated to the theme issue."
I participated in 2008 when the theme was poverty.
I participated in 2010 when the theme was water.

This year the theme is Human Rights.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - US Declaration of Independence, 1776
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. 
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
[Image: Eleanor Roosevelt and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text.]

How have my ancestors interacted with Human Rights issues? Have they been the victims, or the perpetrator of human rights abuses? Have they fought for the human rights of others on political or martial battlefields? The answer, for me, is, 'yes.' All of the above.

I have written several posts in the past that are appropriate to re-share today.

On slave-owning ancestors
On the impact of the Holocaust on my relatives
On those who fought
  • Every Veterans Day I share a list of those in my family who served in their nation's military - in many instances, such as World War II, fighting for the human rights of others.
I'm not proud to say a first cousin, ten times removed, is William Stoughton, the justice who presided over the Salem Witch Trials. However, through the same line, I am cousin to Samuel Huntington, who in addition to being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and President of the Continental Congress from 1779-1781, is also said to have been an abolitionist.

More recent generations have been active in various civil rights movements. There are some who try to distinguish 'Civil Rights' from 'Human Rights,' but they can be viewed as a subset.
Teachers tend to present the ‘civil rights movement’ as a distinctly American event, from ‘Montgomery to Memphis,’ with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as its crowning moment. The term ‘civil rights’ limits our understanding, since it refers specifically to rights guaranteed by the Constitution or protected through legislation. It fails to encompass the cultural, social and economic goals of the struggle. Desegregation and voting rights were a means to achieve broader goals, such as overcoming social forces that limit freedom and opportunity. (source)
As I wrote five years ago, apathy is foreign to my genes. As I research my lineage I am proud to see ancestors and kin, near and far, who have and had an interest in the freedom of others.

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