Jan receives award

Professor Jan Knippers Black has committed her life not only to teaching, but as a passionate advocate and activist for human rights. As a first-generation Peace Corps Volunteer in Chile, her experiences propelled her into human rights work, both as scholar and activist, as torture and disappearance threatened so many of her friends in Latin America.

To further her commitment to guarding human rights around the world and honoring her lifetime of achievements, we ask for your support in funding the Jan Black Knippers Fund for Human Rights Protection. Your gift can make a difference. Visit the secure online giving site below or consider setting up a recurring gift to make an even bigger impact.

Activism, Inspiration, Celebration

On September 7, many longtime friends and colleagues gathered in Irvine Auditorium to launch the Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights Protection. The event included speeches by human rights activists and government leaders, music, and inspirational words from Jan.

You can watch video highlights from this memorable evening below, or view photos from the event. Already almost $55,000 has been raised for the fund.

Activism, Inspiration, Celebration on September 7, 2018

Highlights from the memorable evening celebrating the launch of the Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights Protection in the Irvine Auditorium on September 7, 2018.

>> Well good evening. How’s everybody doing?

>> Very special indeed, lots of great mojo here in the house. Yeah?

>> Lot of great work and a lot of love in this room. You know that for a fact. I know a few of you and those of you I don’t know, I know that you’ve been touched by this amazing moment right here.

>> This one and you know all of this

>> We moved to this area, to Monterey 27 years ago. And my wife was in the first class that Jan taught here at the Monterey School, well it used to be the Monterey School of International Studies. But we go way back, Jan?

>> Yes.

>> We’d like to dedicate a couple songs to the work that, for me, represents everything that Jan has worked for, for so many years. This is a song written by called Mano o Mano. He says Mano o Mano, hand to hand, Corazon con Corazon, heart to heart.

It’s almost. We are there. Night, I work with children. I opened a little arts center called Arts. And I teach-

>> Yeah, thank you.

>> When we do sign, we say, mano o mano, hand in hand. Corazon con corazon. It’s almost like. It’s put two hands together and you become solid.

You become one. Sometimes we forget, right. When somebody falls down I tell them, when somebody falls down join their hands and that’s solidarity, whole. When somebody feels alone. I think, I don’t know anybody who’s traveled the world more than this woman.

>> I know that that’s what she is and that’s what she wanted to be.

And she’s been going to all these places and bringing us all together in. It means So I hope you enjoy it. If you catch the words, this is Spanish 101. I know we are in a language school, so sing along, all right?

>> Thank you, we were asked to do one song, so we’re gonna do two.

>> Actually had a few songs that I had ready for her. There’s a poem by Leon Felipe. I’m from Spain, I’m from Malaga, Spain. Pablo Picasso

>> That’s great. And And there’s a poem by who the civil war in Spain, a poem called. There are no crazy people and no.

That weird person from La Mancha died. When do we your? If it’s not now then. And locals, I hope that. But we’re not gonna do that.

>> She’s like, uh-oh. We didn’t practice that. We’re gonna do another song. We’re gonna do. Praying. Let’s make a wall with both hands.

Black people, give me your black hands, white people, give me your white hands. And so all the girls from the beach they volunteer to march on to the beach, all the way to the horizon. Put who was one of those that spoke for freedom. People of different races can gather together, and I had the pleasure of being the last year.

And I know that you and go many times, right? Let’s build the right type of wall, shall we?

>> Yeah.

>> Yeah?

>> So when you that means that somebody’s knocking on the door.

>> Whereas good things in life are gonna come. Open the world. Which means open the wall.

>> Thanks that actually worked, I mean happy things in life. This in happiness are we getting on a daily news feed.

>> Which means you guys know this. Thank you so much for letting us be here.

>> Thank you very much.

>> Weird, let’s start again. Yes.

>> Five minutes.

>> Good evening. My name is Jeff David Johnson. I’m the Dean of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. I regret I can’t join you in person this evening, but I am delighted to welcome all of you to the institute. Both personally and on behalf of all our students, staff, and faculty.

I’m grateful to acknowledge the launch of the Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights Protection. The occasion for our coming together tonight. And I’m even more delighted and truly honored to pay tribute to my dear friend and colleague, Professor Jan Black. Now, many people have a lot of profound and noble things to say about Jan.

It’s impossible for those of us who know and love Jan to refrain from doing so. I’ll mention only a couple of things about her. First of all, in 2011 I came to visit the campus as a candidate for a faculty job. Like all such candidates, I had a packed day.

I had a public lecture, I had back to back meetings with faculty, staff, students. It was stimulating and it was welcoming, but by the end of the day I was pretty beat. The last person on my schedule was one Jan Black. Now I knew Jan by reputation. She’s a world recognized expert in Latin-American studies, which is my field, but I had never met her.

I came into her office, there were tall piles of books and papers. Many of you know what I’m talking about. Jan was there talking with William Morrocha. She got up and she said, I have a plan for you Jeff, and she led William and me to a bar on Alvarado Street.

We drank wine, we talked about music, we talked about the arts and military dictatorships As one does with Jan. By the second chardonnay, I was thinking God, I hope they offer me this job. They did, and we’d been drinking wine and talking arts and politics ever since. Now Jan has been at the institute for more than a quarter of a century.

Her influence is felt globally, around the world, through the hundreds of students that she’s taught. And with whom she seems to be still in nearly daily contact. Her influence is likewise felt in the character of who we are and what we do here at the Institute. Particularly in our commitment to human rights, which we celebrate this evening.

As the dean of a school forever improved by Jan’s vision, her service, her enthusiasm and charm. And as a colleague who came here partly because Jan plied me with multiple glasses of Central Coast chardonnay. I raise my glass figuratively at least to you, Jan, in gratitude and with profound respect and friendship.

Thank you. Welcome, and wow, thanks to you for being here. I think this is the best looking audience I have ever seen.

>> I’m sure I have never seen so many of my best friends in the same big room like this before. It’s simply wonderful. Now that I’m, finally getting into putting my money where my mouth is, I have hoped I won’t have to have too much to say tonight.

But I will have to start of course by thanking the people who have made this happen. I have, I have helped where I could but this really hasn’t been ideal. It’s, it’s the work first of all the director of

>> Is wonderful. And Barbara Burke, the Executive Assistant to the Vice President.

>> Yeah, how about that for timing?

>> Anyway, I was just about to say that nothing happens at the Institute without Barbara. Also, I want to thank because a lot of the people working with her put in a lot of long hours, and Jason there, and Ava and Lenay, and many others.

And of course I want to thank the co-sponsors. That would be the United Nations Association, the Peace Coalition, and the Little Mary Institute, Embassy Club. And then, of course, a musician. Wow, that was fantastic! I was

>> I’m sure I would’ve been able to draw all of you here just for that show.

It’s wonderful and it’s not over. They come back from the reception, and let’s see, women and of course the speakers. The executive director of Amnesty International USA, and Majority Leader of the State Senate, Senator Bill Monning. Who is not a guest here. I mean we are very happy to have Margaret here as our guest.

Bill’s no guest. This is his home. In fact I think of him as the security blanket for the Central Coast.

>> And I see we have Sam Barr here! I didn’t know we were gonna have him, that’s fantastic!

>> It’s always. Washington?

>> Yeah. I did want to tell you just a little bit before, just about what I had in mind, what I had in mind about this fund.

And it’s a two-part thing. We’re watching the first part tonight. This is about a scholarship for Monterey Institute students. To do voluntary work for Amnesty International and just to make it financially a little bit easier for them to do that. Cuz I’ve always felt uncomfortable with, Internships and things like that that don’t pay.

And so I can’t pay enough with this sort of thing. And it’s not like I have just won the lottery or anything like that. So I am kind of hoping that my friends in will definitely help us a little bit just to keep this thing going as long as we can.

And I know you are doing it already, Shirley tells me we’re getting some a lot of help, and we really do appreciate that. There will be a second installment of this program, and it is to underline a speaker’s series on human rights. An annual event both, usually in the spring.

And to go with that also an award for alumni who have done particularly outstanding work in human rights. And I’m not at all sure yet when that’s gonna happen. I hope it will happen sometime this fall, maybe late October or early November somewhere around there. I may not be able to be a part of that, but well, I’ll be presenting.

But I would hope that it will go on regardless. So now let me introduce our guest speaker tonight. Margaret who is, A dynamite. Absolutely a keg of dynamite. As Executive Director, he is in charge of membership of a million people, more than a million And a budget of something like 40 million.

And it’s growing all the time, the membership, and the donations. And I think she’s entitled to much of that, no, we have to give a little bit of credit to Trump.

>> But it’s mostly for Margaret.

>> Anyway, this is no big deal for Margaret. She’s been proof to power for a very long time.

I think she’s been a campaigner for human rights all her life, certainly since her college years at Georgetown, and then at Columbia where she studied international law, and human rights. Her focus was really on all of that. And since then she has had leadership of something like, a half a dozen, other organizations in human rights.

She has also worked with the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. And among the many organizations she’s worked with, I know you will recognize the Robert Kennedy Center as one of those, she has a purview that covers, it’s global, it’s inclusive. Her role has not just been to energize Americans to think about human rights, but of course to connect NGOs from the United States, particularly with institutions overseas that we need to be working with.

We have to cool our interest with United Nations association, in our American organizations, and that sort of thing. But there was a bit of a turnaround with 9/11. My first thought when 9/11 came along was, my God, the war on terror is gonna be a war on rights, there’s no way around it, that’s exactly what it’s gonna be.

But I think one of the biggest threats is going to be, fear itself, and the militarization that can bring about. And I wrote about all this, but then I didn’t do anything about it, Margaret really did something about it. She put together a coalition of 300 organizations to get out there and make sure that people were somehow protected, and that people, especially, understood what they were up against.

Since that time, Margaret came over to Amnesty, that was in 2014, and then she became the executive director in 2015. And there was a transition that was taking place, and that she promoted in every way, which was a recognition that it was time for us to do something about our own country, especially to focus on, or to take seriously the abuses that were going on in this country, you’ve gotta do something about it, particularly the abuses on the vulnerable of any kind from law enforcement agencies.

So that has been a major focus for all of us since then. But one of our concerns when we did this turnabout, was that people would imagine, and we were abandoning our concern for the rest of the world, but that’s not what it was. She helped to make this turnabout a very smooth one, and a well-understood one.

Because what we aim to do, and I think we did pretty well, was to show that we weren’t turning our back, at all, on the rest of the world. We were just reconnecting with it in a different way, in a more humble way. In a way that really helped us help others, and accept help from others in ways that we’ve never been able to do before.

I hadn’t mentioned that the biggest challenge, and she handled it better than anybody I’ve ever seen, was to keep the peace with, within the board.

>> With the board, and the staff, and the membership, and all that, you wouldn’t believe how challenging that can be. But we get it done, and she did it very well.

So anyway, now more than ever, we really need human rights, the focus on human rights. And we need Amnesty, more than ever. And that means, more than ever, Amnesty means Margaret. So I’m going to introduce our second speaker. I bragged a bit, but I’ll invite Margaret up now.

>> Hi, good evening, what a wonderful crowd. And it’s such a testament to Jan. Jan, that was such a kind, and far too long introduction.

>> I was thinking it’s really about you, and as it should be. And it’s a great privilege and, and matter of fact, a real pleasure to be here this evening, to be part of this celebration of Jan Black, and her remarkable leadership on human rights.

And I’d like to thank the Middlebury Institute as well for hosting me tonight. For those of you in the audience who’ve had the privilege of learning from Jan, and I count myself in that crowd, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that Jan is a little bit like the fairy godmother

>> You never know where she’s gonna show up.

>> She will always champion those who need her, and her outfits are fabulous.

>> There’s no question that Jan has covered the most far-flung corners of our world. Shaking her fists at dictators, and authoritarian regimes, and inspiring young people to take action. From Iran to Bhutan, from Cuba, to the Balkans, from East Timor, to Chile, Jan has brought her vast knowledge, her wise counsel, and her indomitable spirit to scholars and activists alike.

There’s no question that we need more human rights champions like Janice today than ever. We’re living in a moment when the Foundation of the International Human Rights system, which was created by the United Nations after World War II, the foundations of democratic governments and the rule of law are under threat.

Today, in this fabricated anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are still seeing so many human rights crises. Just last year in August, the military of Myanmar launched a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing in response to attacks from an armed group of the Burning Guns Salvation Army.

The military killed women, men and children. They committed rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls. And they systematically burned hundreds of villages, more than 670,000 people fled into Bangladesh in just the course of a couple of months. Since those war crimes took place, the Burmese military has started new construction building roads and army bases on Rohingya-owned land so that they have no place to return home.

Today, Syria remains in a state of human rights and humanitarian crisis. The United Nations lists more than 9,000,000 Syrians as refugees and internally displaced people, making it the largest, but not the only, current refugee crisis in the world. Tens of thousands of civilians across Syria, including children, been forced to live a terrible life of hardship under siege.

Civilians continue to be at the receiving end of the frequent, indiscriminate attacks by the government forces, which also continue to commit other great violations, including war crimes, such as arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearance. There are also ongoing hostilities and crushing restrictions imposed by the Saudi Arabia led coalition on Yemen.

During the three years of Yemen’s conflict, all parties have flagrantly violated international law. Civilian lives have been devastated by indiscriminate bombing and shelling, arbitrary detentions, a spiraling humanitarian crisis, that has made more than 22 million people reliant on foreign aid to survive. The United States continues to sell military weapons to Saudi Arabia despite evidence that these weapons have been used by the coalition to kill civilians in the conflict.

Yemen is also one of the countries singled out by President Trump’s Muslim ban, preventing those who wish to leave this terrible situation from coming to the United States. And here, in the United States, we don’t escape these challenges. Refugees and asylum seekers are being thrown, in new record numbers, in prison, for exercising their internationally recognized right to seek safety.

Even more incredible, we’ve seen children forcibly separated from their parents and there are still today more than 400 kids who have not been reunited with their families, despite a court order deadline in July. As of this week, 16 people have been executed in the United States this year, all by lethal injection.

And there are 13 more scheduled to be executed before the end of 2018. According to the CDC, more than 38,000 people died of gun violence in 2016. Among those killed in 2017, were more than 3,900 children and teenagers. And just this week the President raised the possibility of making protests illegal in the United States.

In case you’re hoping that this might be wishful thinking, you should know that since November 2016, 31 States have introduced legislation to restrict or criminalize peaceful protest, 9 have adopted legislation. Additionally, last year the White House issued an executive order reinstating a program that transfers surplus military equipment to police departments.

Including weaponized vehicles, large caliber ammunition, riot gear, all of which are once again allowed to be used to respond to protests. So this is a pretty dire picture. And we’re really not supposed to be so gloomy and doomy tonight. So what gives me hope when I think about all of these challenges around the world?

That would be human rights activism. Just like the work that Jan has done consistently over so many years. I’m gonna share a bit with you about amnesty activism and how it works. As one example of our campaign, Amnesty International hosted a Write for Rights International Day on December 10th, the International Day of Human Rights.

Write for Rights is actually the writing of letters for human rights. And each year hundreds of thousands of people around the world write millions of letters. There are two kinds of letters. Half of them go to governments who are oppressing human rights defenders or locking them up. The other half are solidarity letters that are delivered to people who are behind bars, who are expressing their opinions and for their identity.

In this day and age, you wouldn’t think that writing letters would have the same power as it might have done in years past. But incredibly, each year, governments do respond when they’re targeted by hundreds of thousands of letters from around the world demanding that they change. Let me share with you a couple of the people who Amnesty has helped.

Moses was a 16-year old in Nigeria. When he was arrested under suspicion of armed robbery in 2005, he spent three months in police detention, where he says that police officers repeatedly beat him with machetes and batons. He told Amnesty that they tied and hung him up for several hours, and then used pliers to pull out his toe, and his fingernails.

Finally Moses agreed to sign two pre-written confessions, and in 2013, he was sentenced to death. Just a reminder. In the 2014 Write for Rights, activists around the world performed more than 800,000 actions on their behalf Today, he is a free man and going to school in Nigeria.

>> In July of 2012, Yecenia Armenta was taken into police custody in Mexico and brutally tortured.

The police beat her for hours. They raped her, and they threatened to kill her children if she did not confess to committing a crime. In spite of independent medical evidence, the torture took place. The so-called confession was used to charge her, and she was held behind bars for several years.

In 2016, Yecenia was released after Amnesty championed her case with letters. On his 69th birthday in 2016, Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox walked free. For 44 years, he served in solitary confinement in the Angola prison in Louisiana, longer than any other prisoner in isolation. Nearly every day for more than half his life, Albert woke up in a cell the size of a parking lot.

After more than four decades, he was our featured Write for Rights campaign in 2015. And today, he is walking freely in the United States. Also in the US, many immigrant families are being held in detention facilities, such as the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania. Most of these immigrants actually come from a region known as the Northern Triangle of Central America which you’ve heard of, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The Northern Triangle is an area widely recognized for its extreme levels of violence and insecurity which Amnesty has documented extensively. Last year, a 3-year-old and his 28-year-old mother Teresa, fled kidnapping threats and physical and sexual assault in Honduras before arriving in the United States seeking asylum. They were put in jail.

They were put in the Berks Residential Facility for more than 16 months. Jose, the little boy, spent more than half of his young life in detention, learning to walk and talk in confinement. Last fall, Amnesty campaigned to win their release and today they are fighting their case for asylum outside the detention center.

As a Peace Corps volunteer, and as an educator and author, and of course as a board member of Amnesty, Jan has walked the walk every day. Showing us by her actions and her voice that she will stand up for human rights. And her leadership is more important today than ever.

Because we can’t take our rights for granted, not here in the United States, not anywhere in the world. Right now, there is a really strong sense of division across the country. No matter how you feel about our political system, everyone can agree that reaching consensus on important national issues is getting harder and harder.

And often it seems the politicians are trying to divide us, rather than trying to bring us together. Our Bill of Rights guarantees the right to freedom of speech, which is also one of the fundamental rights guaranteed under international human rights law. But today, we see government officials attacking journalists.

We see police forces using tear gas and attack dogs against peaceful protesters. And that’s why I am so thrilled to be here tonight for the launch of the Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights Protection. This fund will support education and awareness raising about human rights. It will support young people who are starting their careers in human rights work.

And it will honor those who have made an incredible impact in the field of human rights. So on behalf of my board of directors, and more than 1 million activists and members of the United States, I want to my express my deep gratitude, Jan, for her incredible gifts, and her generous spirit, and for creating this bond and helping all of us.

We at Amnesty often like to say it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Jan, you’ve lit a powerful flame, and it is my honor to stand with you and light the darkness together, thank you.

>> One of the reasons that I thought it was a good idea to bring Margaret and Bill together is because when I think that when the saints go marching in, they better go together for their safety.

>> Our majority leader of states needs no introduction anywhere inside California, but.

>> I imagine that there are some of you who don’t really know that he has been an advocate and activist in youth reliance all his life, particularly around here. But also he did a lot of work for Central America in the 80s when the United States was making more on the democracy in that area.

And even before then, in the 60s, he was working with Cesar Chavez and reform workers who would try to find a little justice in the field. And anyway, he has worked in human rights in many ways, many times, and so forth. I imagine most of you know that he was for many years a member of the faculty of the Monterey Institute, and it was wonderful having him here.

But I applaud the intelligence of all of us to have let him go so we can have a really serious champion of human rights in the legislature. And so he has done amazing things for us there. And I think particularly he understands and has always acted upon the idea of bringing human rights home.

And so I think he’s a very appropriate one to tell us a little bit more about the not just the why to do it. He knows that. We know that. But how do we do it.

>> Thank you Jan, and good evening to all of you. Thank you for all being here.

As we launch the establishment this evening, of the Jan Knippers-Black Fund for Human Rights Protection. I want to especially thank the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and the Amnesty International Chapter here at MIIS. For your organizing and your hosting this evening’s event, and to the Coast-sponsoring organizations. The United Nations Association, the MIIS Campus International Student Club, and the Peace Coalition of Monterey County.

I also wanna thank from afar, Dean Jeff Dayton-Johnson, Professor Laura Burian, and Juan Sanchez. Let’s thank them for their amazing music.

>> The second song, has played a lot, so if have a album you can find it. And I also wanna thank in advance, the music of the Heartstrings who will be playing and entertaining for us.

At the reception, immediately following the program this evening, I want to thank the organizers. They have been thanked, but I think further thanks is in order for Shirley, Lanae, Karen, Eva, Barbara, Jason. And everyone who helped bring this together in relatively, short order, let’s give them another good thanks.

>> I give my very special thanks to Margaret Fong, for joining us, for gracing us with your presence. And this sobering update, but also the light that you bring. And more importantly, in your presence tonight, your leadership every day, every year, let’s thank Margaret Fong.

>> It’s a great honor for me to return home, I’m technically on leave of absence as a faculty member.

>> I keep reminding people of that, there’s been turnover in leadership. So I have to make sure that somebody remembers that I’m on a leave of absence.

>> But to be here this evening is particularly important to me, to honor Professor Jan Blackford. For her years of dedication and leadership as an Academic, as an Advocate, and as an Activist.

In the cause of Human Rights protection, from her work as a member on the Boards of Directors of Amnesty International. The United Nations Association, Global Majority, Peace and Justice Center, and the Executive Board of the State Democratic Party. For her leadership as a Professor Activist who’s come to mentor hundreds, if not thousands of students.

It’s absolutely historically appropriate, and historically imperative, that Jan’s decades of working commitment. Be carried forward by the establishment of a fund in her name. I’ve had the honor and privilege of knowing Jan as a friend, as an academic colleague here at the Institute. And as an ally on many fronts, in Jan’s work with Global Majority, she’s accompanied MIIS students to conflict resolution forums.

Trainings in Human Rights activism, and engagement with the Mapuche Community in Southern Chile. In partnership with our good friend, and Global Majority member, Judge Juan Guzman Tapia. And with other local majority leaders, many of whom, were educated here, and benefited from Jan’s mentorship. Jan’s ability to be a contributor to both the academic study of Human Rights.

As an effective advocate and activist, represents a rare combination, we often rely on the work of academics to inform our activism. Or we look to activists to carry forward in the real world, that which too often, stays confined in the sanctuaries of Academia. Jan has led in both, and all the arenas, where Human Rights are being taught, explained, projected, and protected.

And as is envisioned by the development of the Fund for Human Rights Protection, we recognize that the struggle for Human Rights. Is not limited, to the struggles of people in communities in foreign lands. But also to victims of rights violations, here in the United States, in California, and in Monterey County.

As a member of the California State Senate with Jan’s steadfast support, I’ve been able to work to address that connectivity. Of some of the struggles in Sacramento, where in recent years, we’ve carried and passed landmark legislation. On climate change, police practices, prison reform, immigration protections, and the impacts of poverty.

You may wonder why I mentioned climate change as linked with Human Rights, unfortunately, it is not much of a stretch. It is often, marginalized communities of color, including immigrant communities, where the first is suffered. That public health impacts of climate change, including poor air quality, contaminated water, fires.

And often, inhumane working conditions, in fields and factories, that are reaching unbearable temperatures. With no relief from air conditioning or other protections. The common denominators in these connected impacts is poverty, racism, sexism, exploitation, and abuse. And often, the persecution of those who take the stand, and who stand up to fight for protective rights.

I’m proud to report that the State of California, and Governor Jerry Brown. Will be hosting the Climate Actions Summit, next week in San Francisco, where we will host the international community. And representatives of other states, who have been shunned, by the callus actions of the current occupant of the White House.

Who’s the only World Leader to unilaterally, pull a nation out of the unanimous consent agreement. Reached at the Paris Climate conference, the number of plenary and special sessions looked at the linkage among labor rights. Public health, the environment, including our oceans, wildfires, and extreme weather events. Indeed, climate change represents the ultimate threat to the most fundamental Human Right, the right to life and human survival.

In Sacramento, we have also worked to establish the state’s reporting obligations under International Human Rights treaties. While on the State Assembly, I carry assembly concurrent resolution 129, that recognizes the duty of our state’s Attorney General. To publicize specified International Human Rights treaties and protocols, to cities, counties, and state agencies.

To inform them of their reporting duties to the United Nations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. The International Convention against torture and other cruel and inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment. And the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and additional protocols.

All of these treaty obligations, ratified by the US Senate, are part and parcel of our domestic laws, and enforceable as domestic laws, under the supremacy clause of the US Constitution. This resolution, the one I just mentioned, was brought to us by civil liberties and human rights champion Ann Fagan Ginger of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute.

We need only to look to California’s continued death penalty laws, solitary confinement, police shootings of predominantly young males of color, overcrowded jails and prisons, child trafficking. And the separation of immigrant children from their parents to understand that human rights protections must be enforced at home and abroad. I’m also proud to report that the California state legislature just passed a resolution, carried by Assemblywoman Monique Limon in the Assembly and by me and the Senate at the conclusion of this legislative session last week.

Joint Resolution Number 33 relative to nuclear weapons communicates to the US Congress and the President the will of the people of California to embrace the UN Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

>> That was a landmark treaty achieved last year in a campaign led by a former student of Jan Black and Professor Bill Connors of the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies here at MIIS.

Ambassador Elayne Whyte, the Costa Rican diplomat whose effective and tireless diplomacy led to this landmark achievement in the United Nations and which contributed to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons. You’ll shortly hear from Ambassador Whyte on another delivered message to Jan.

There’s a saying in politics that all politics are local. Jan Black learned this at an early age from her father, who was also a state senator and who I had the honor of meeting. He was affectionately referred to as Judge by his friends and community members in Tennessee.

He raised Jan’s respect for human and civil rights of all people. And just as all politics are local, so are all human rights ultimately local. As we challenge human rights violations at home, we must use our privilege and resources to support the campaign for our sisters and brothers who are the victims of human rights abuses abroad.

Those who have shown the courage to stand up often have nobody covering their backs. They look to us. They look to the international community and those of us who have the ability and the power to engage. I received this report from Amnesty International in 1983 when we led a delegation to El Salvador to secure and to negotiate the release of Professor Ricardo Calderon.

He was one of the many disappeared. During his disappearance he was tortured. He also signed a confession, a pre-prepared confession under duress when they brought him the ear of a child and they told him that it was his son’s ear, and that they would continue to bring body parts of his infant son, until he signed a confession.

He signed a confession, he was remanded to Mariona Prison. In an international campaign led by him as the international focused on then US Ambassador Pickering, and then President Alvaro Magana. I had the honor of meeting a delegation. There were four of us, we flew into San Salvador and the power that helped us secure Ricardo’s release was the use of fax machines, kind of an antiquated communications device.

>> But we targeted the US embassy, and Alvaro Megana’s presidential palace. And the faxes were coming from the US, from Mexico, from Central America, from Canada, from Japan, from Europe, from all over the world. And when we finally got to negotiate with Magana, he said you have to stop jamming our communication system.

>> He said we’re a country, not war. But it was Amnesty International that elevated this case to an urgent action campaign that was the power that gave us any negotiating power with the ambassador and with the president of four unknowns who had traveled from California. I just wanna close again by turning our focus this evening to the woman that we honor and the fund that we establish.

Professor Jan Black has demonstrated by how she has lived her life that we are all indeed connected. She’s used her knowledge and experience in an unselfish manner to educate, involve and activate generations of students who are today’s human rights activists and practitioners. At this time, I would also like to recognize Professor Martin Needler, Jan’s husband, who has served as a collaborator, a co-conspirator.

>> Marty, we thank you for your collaboration and sharing Jan with us and supporting her in her fights and struggles all these years. Once again, thank you, Marty.

>> It is now my honor to recognize the establishment of the Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights Protection by presenting the California State Senate Certificate.

Jan, please come forward. That recognizes the establishment of the fund and the importance of Jan Black’s leadership through the years. I usually don’t read whereases, but this one is relatively short, so I’m gonna close by sharing this with you, Jan, and reading it. So people can hear this recognition from the California State Senate and the people of the State of California.

The recognition of Professor Jan Knippers Black for her leadership and commitment in the field of human rights research, advocacy and teaching. Including her work as a member of the boards of directors of Amnesty International, Global Majority, the United Nations Association of Monterey County, the California Democratic Party, and as a teacher, friend, and ally.

You made me lose my place. Students and graduates of the Monterey Middlebury Institute of International Study who now lead human rights campaigns around the world. The fund will work to support the continued efforts of Professor Jan Black to promote not only human rights around the world and at home, but also to promote the human dignity and worth of all people.

Thank you Jan for years of work, leadership, and inspiration. With love, admiration, and respect, the California State Senate.

>> I can only say I expected all kinds of wonderful but this one, I didn’t even imagine. Wow!

>> Thank you, thank you.

>> I came to in 1991. My special interest then was development of Latin America.

I was passionate about discovering regional economic integration as a development tool. It was mandatory then that I took Jan Black’s classes on development in Latin America. I discovered this warm person, who at the same time was tough when reading, grading my papers, and she continuously encouraged us to go beyond the text book to understand reality, to talk to the people, to see with our own eyes, to go the source, and for Jen, the source is the people living their lives throughout the world.

She does it not only for us to develop critical thinking but also to develop our humanity. As a diplomat of Costa Rica, a country that had historically championed the respect and fulfillment of human rights from the world and domestically, I am privileged to represent my country at the United Nations office in Geneva, which is the global hope of human rights including the UN human rights council.

Through my work I see that there is so much progress we have achieved throughout human history, but so much to do to stop human suffering wherever it occurs. You understand that you need warm, passionate, free spirited free thinkers like Professor Jan Black to go and work in the field of human rights with a passion and conviction that has defined her.

When I think of the best way to describe her legacy in all of us, I say that she wants everyone to understand that all humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And that is the utmost truth. I thank you, Jan.

>> Thank you, Elaine, and I do know where she is.

She’s in Geneva. I, well, there are lot of reasons for being in an institution like this one. And they did pay salaries.

>> Maybe not always well, but yeah, they paid. But that’s not the pay that matters. That’s the pay. Yeah but the kind of thing that a student of mine would say.

Wow! That’s surprising. Most of you have probably heard something about the fact that I am not being encouraged to buy any green bananas these days. My doctors have been telling me that I am already now living on borrowed time. And I’m here tonight to embarrass him.

>> When they say I’m borrowing they don’t know what kind of bank I’m going to.

>> As it turns out, that bank is you. But that borrowed time, when I’m borrowing it from you, it’s the energy that I get. And well, you all have been just aimlessly pampering me for two years now. Please keep it up, it’s working.

>> Join me upstairs right away, please, for wonderful food and drink and music.

So I hope to have a chance to talk with all of you before we get out of here.

Jan Black’s Lifetime Legacy

For almost 28 years, Jan has been a professor of International Policy and Management at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey. Her briefer teaching or research appointments have included American University, University of New Mexico, Semester-at-Sea, and St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. She has also offered workshops in several countries, including East Timor, The Czech Republic, Taiwan, Brazil, and Costa Rica, and onsite courses in Cuba, Chile, Iran, Bhutan, and the Balkans. She has authored, edited and co-authored more than two dozen books and some 200 chapters and articles in reference books, anthologies, journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Jan was elected to the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA in 2011 and re-elected in 2014. She also has served on some two dozen other boards and has recently received several awards for promotion of civil and human rights or community leadership and service.

About the Fund

The Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights Protection at the Middlebury Institute will help build awareness and engagement around human rights protection among MIIS students in three important ways: funding the Amnesty International USA (AI-USA) fellowship for a MIIS student to intern with that organization; bringing distinguished activists and practitioners to campus for an Annual Human Rights Speaker Series; and annually presenting an award to a Middlebury Institute alumnus/alumna who has achieved distinction as a human rights activist.

Give Now and indicate the Jan Black Fund in the designation