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'Mr. Human Rights' Jack Healey
Audio: Jack Healey in his own words
Healey, the lead-off speaker in a series of events commemorating 150 years of history between
"I believe that the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution were written not only for us Americans," he said. "The Founding Fathers actually believed it should apply to the world. It should apply to anybody living anywhere."
He credited Eleanor Roosevelt with championing the concept of a universal declaration of human rights in 1948. "She did it as a volunteer at the United Nations," he said. "It gives everybody the right, not only individual rights, but also the left -- the right to get an education, the right to get a job, the right to unionize, the right to have a home. She united those ideas into one document."
Healey, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and worked in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer before taking the helm at Amnesty International USA where he led global music tours to raise human rights awareness, said, "The world's decency, the world's hope for the future, depend not upon government, but upon individuals. Simple folk. Eleanor Roosevelt was asked where do human rights start and she used to say, 'Little places with little people.' Little people suffer."
He talked about human rights violations around the globe -- from
"We don't have the steel, the might, the money, the power," Healey said of the human rights movement. "But we've got the heart and the truth. We've got the decency to stand up and be counted."
When a country like the
"You should understand what it means to the rest of the world … You should understand the very discussion of torture on television will send at least a million people, maybe more, into post-traumatic stress -- immediately. There are millions of living people on this earth who have been tortured. Four-hundred thousand raped women in
Make the world better
He said citizens have an obligation to make a better world.
"How do we do that? I would argue we use the universal declaration of human rights not as a law but as a vision, as a strategy by which we can lift this world and make it a little better and, thereby, make ourselves better," he said. "Think about it. A letter. If a letter can free someone from a torture chamber, shouldn't you write the damn letter?"
He described the focus of his current human rights work -- freeing Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who was elected leader of
He expressed special admiration for Bucknell.
"I am happy about the relationship you have with
Contact: Office of Communications
Posted March 21, 2008