Please join us at the Take Action Against Hate Banquet to honor this year’s Eva Lassman Take Action Against Hate awardees – Rev. Happy Watkins and the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.
Formed in 1981 as an all-volunteer organization, the KCTFHR also has a long, diverse history of “making a difference” by combating hateful activities and messages, promoting human and civil rights, and building communities dedicated to safety, welcome, inclusion, and peace. More than a decade ago, the Task Force worked effectively to oppose the now-defunct Aryan Nations organization and operations in Northern Idaho. Since then, the Task Force has propelled many enduring transformations, especially in the areas of civic and educational resources, community improvements, and celebratory events. The Task Force helped create the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene and a public peace park where the Aryan Nations Compound once stood., and it organizes and hosts an Annual Gala and a Human Rights Banquet. The KCTFHR also continues to lead in other ways, such as providing advocacy and support against hate crimes and lending technical consulting services to schools and communities on human rights issues.
The featured speaker at Gonzaga’s Take Action Against Hate Banquet is Ven. Geshe Thupten Phelgye, the University’s visiting scholar and global peace activist. Geshe la, as he is affectionately known, is the founder of the Universal Compassion Movement. He was a student of the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) and he served for many years as a member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.
The Banquet program also includes a performance of “Eva’s Song,” the poetic remembrance of Eva Lassman, read by its author Michael Gurian with cellist Vicki Strauss providing accompaniment. Lassman, herself a Holocaust survivor and a long-time community educator on the Holocaust, human rights, challenging hatred, and standing for others, received the inaugural Take Action Against Hate Award in 2009. For more than five decades, Lassman stood as both witness and advocate for human dignity, respect, and perseverance.
“For many of us, she was and remains ‘our own Elie Wiesel’,” said Shuford, alluding to the Nobel laureate political activist, educator, and author of five dozen books. Lassman, who was a member of the Institute’s advisory board, received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2002. She passed away in February 2011 just shy of her 92nd birthday.
Banquet attendees will be invited to direct gifts to help endow the Eva Lassman Memorial Fund at Gonzaga University. When it reaches the endowment threshold, the Memorial Fund will support an annual Eva Lassman Student Award for Gonzaga University undergraduates to work with the Institute on projects that combine research, education, and leadership in continuance of Lassman’s legacy of “combating hatred, promoting tolerance and respect, and advancing peace and human rights.”
The Take Action Against Hate Banquet is being held on Tuesday, October 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm in Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University. Banquet reservations for individuals and groups are available now. Pricing begins at $50 for individuals and $400 for a table of eight persons. All proceeds from the Take Action Against Hate Banquet support the activities of the Institute for Hate Studies.
For more information on the Take Action Against Hate Banquet, to make your reservations or to become an Institute member or sponsor, visit https://commerce.cashnet.com/GIHS, call (509) 313-3665 or contact the Institute via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inquiries about the event should be directed to Dr. John Shuford at (509) 313-3665. Media please contact Mary Joan Hahn at (509) 313-6095 or via e-mail or Peter Tormey at (509) 313-6132 or via e-mail.
Contributed by Jim Mohr