Amnesty International will hold its Southern Regional Conference in Memphis Oct. 31-Nov. 2, and plans a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Tom Lee Park. The MLK salute will consist of a giant human mosaic depicting King, which will be photographed from an airplane. Amnesty International hopes to get 2,000 participants to help create the artwork.
AI Southern region field organizer Aadiyah Ali says the group is concentrating its efforts on several fronts: abolishing the death penalty, curtailing violence against women, making sure human rights are preserved in the fight against terrorism, bringing international pressure to fight the genocide in Darfur, and protecting individuals at risk.
Memphis, she says, will become the central point in a campaign for economic rights, which she says is defined by the health-care gap between the rich and the poor.
"Memphis fits our goals perfectly." she adds. "We would like to see more people get involved in the push for economic rights for workers."
The conference events and workshops will be at the First Congregational Church and the National Civil Rights Museum. Among the featured speakers will be William Lucy, national head of AFSCME, and Carol Anderson, author of Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights.
A hip hop show at the High Point Pinch called "Displaced in America" will feature artists left homeless by Hurricane Katrina, as well as several local acts.
An Unsung Heroes awards program, concerts, and more will highlight the Keep The Dream Alive event at Tom Lee Park.
"All this is being planned to show citizens and other organizations that we are planning on being in Memphis for the long run and that we are here to support those committed to fighting for human rights," Ali says. For more info, see the Amnesty International website.
-- Tony Jones