Ndaba Mandela, the grandson of former South Africa president and human rights icon Nelson Mandela, will lead a list of internationally renowned speakers headlining the Kean University Human Rights Conference on Friday, December 8.
The conference – organized by the Human Rights Institute (HRI) at Kean – this year marks the 75th anniversary of the passage of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, with the theme Freedom, Equity and Justice for All.
Joining Mandela as speakers will be Sophia Kianni, an Iranian-American climate change activist and the youngest appointed United Nations advisor, and John Prendergast, a New York Times best-selling author and co-founder, with actor George Clooney, of the human rights organization The Sentry.
“Kean’s annual Human Rights Conference tackles issues of crucial importance, but none, perhaps, as important as this year’s recognition of human rights as a worldwide imperative,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “At a time when our world is stricken by war, and we have witnessed suffering on a global scale, the Human Rights Conference at Kean – featuring notable speakers such as Ndaba Mandela – shines a light on the need to protect the rights of all people.”
Co-founder of the Africa Rising Foundation, author and one of BET’s “28 Men of Change,” Mandela speaks of growing up with his grandfather, and the great leader and humanitarian’s message that one person can make a difference.
“I carry with me the values of my grandfather,” he said. “I am an African, and I know what it means to be African, and I’m proud of it.”
Kianni is a student at Stanford University and founder of Climate Cardinals, an international nonprofit that translates climate information into more than 100 languages.
Prendergast’s organization,The Sentry, is an investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to war criminals and transnational war profiteers. He has worked for the White House, the State Department, the National Intelligence Council, and held other posts. He is also a former Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senior Fellow at Kean.
Felice Vazquez, senior vice president of planning and special counsel to the president at Kean, said past HRI conferences have explored issues such as disability justice, food insecurity, and the importance of voting.
“Kean is proud to welcome the public to our campus to explore and learn about issues such as the U.N. Declaration of Human
Rights and the part we can each play in protecting human rights in our communities and around the world,” Vazquez said. “Our speakers, together, will share an important message for students and people of all ages.”
John C. Raue, Kean assistant vice president of strategic initiatives, noted that the conference will also include presentations of human rights awards honoring students, educators and a school community. New this year, HRI is asking Kean faculty and staff to nominate University students for the Outstanding Student Human Rights Activist award.
“The Human Rights Conference is an important event at Kean each year, and helps the University expand its reach and spread its message of freedom and unity,” Raue said. “We are excited to bring these speakers to the Kean community and to recognize human rights leadership.”
The Human Rights Conference will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on December 8 at Wilkins Theatre on Kean’s Union campus. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees must register online.
The conference coincides with the final day of the exhibition WE DECLARE at Kean’s Human Rights Gallery. A large-scale mural created by Kean alumnus and Artist-in-Residence Ricardo Roig this semester, it features many well-known global human rights activists and honors the 75th anniversary of the U.N. declaration.
For more information, visit the Human Rights Conference webpage.
Kean University, New Jersey’s urban research university, is a national institution of higher education recognized for its diversity, innovation and the social mobility of its graduates. Founded in 1855 as a teachers college, Kean has evolved into a thriving research university that supports students as they persist to graduation, give back to their communities and launch successful careers. Kean’s six colleges offer more than 50 undergraduate programs, six doctoral degree programs and more than 70 options leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas or certifications, across a full range of academic subjects. With campuses in Union, Toms River and Manahawkin, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, as well as Kean Online, the University provides students of all backgrounds an affordable and accessible world-class education. Learn more at www.kean.edu.