Editor's note: Our founder, Saranah Holmes, is especially excited about this week's featured organization because of her personal connection. She spent almost eight years employed by RFKHR in the positions of Executive Assistant and Online Auction Manager. Saranah continues to work with RFKHR as a consultant. She is grateful for all of the support she received when she decided to venture out and start the Daily Do Good, and will always consider RFKHR family. 

ROBERT F. KENNEDY: A LEGACY


In her first year teaching high school psychology, Fairfax County, Va. resident Katie Gould led a short unit on serial killers.

“Not my favorite,” she noted.

To balance the scales, she asked her students to name people who exhibited the exact opposite characteristics.

“It got really quiet,” she said. “They had just rattled off five serial killers, and they really didn’t have anyone they could come up with.”

Around the same time, her father, then research director at the American Federation of Teachers, mentioned the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (now known as Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights).

  Robert F. Kennedy (then U.S. attorney general) addresses demonstrators in front of the Justice Department, June 14, 1963/Photo credit:  CBS News

Robert F. Kennedy (then U.S. attorney general) addresses demonstrators in front of the Justice Department, June 14, 1963/Photo credit: CBS News

“There’s an incredible organization,” he told her.

“I was looking for this hole to fill,” Gould said, “and I came across the curriculum for Speak Truth to Power online, and was absolutely delighted.

Speak Truth to Power is one of several programs at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. Founded in 1968 by Ethel Kennedy, the mission of RFK Human Rights is to continue Robert F. Kennedy’s legacy of fighting human rights injustices.

“Everything we do is geared toward realizing the legacy of Robert Kennedy,” said John Heffernan, executive director of Speak Truth to Power. “It’s about creating a citizenry dedicated to holding society to the highest standard of equality and justice. It’s about abandoning the role of bystander when it comes to human rights abuses.

Speak Truth to Power evolved from the book of the same name written by Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, and president of RFK Human Rights. Featuring interviews with 51 human right activists and defenders, the 2000 tome spawned a photo exhibition and a play, which has been performed worldwide by renowned actors including Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Sean Penn, among many others.

But perhaps the most vital offspring of Kerry Kennedy’s book is the Speak Truth to Power curriculum. (Next)

About the Author: Holly Leber is the editorial director of the Daily Do Good. A human rights defender she greatly admired in her youth was Elizabeth Glaser (now deceased) for her work in pediatric AIDS awareness and research.

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