2019 NEWS & UPDATES
Members may submit local events and news information related to their agencies to be posted to the IAOHRA website. Please send information to .
Maryland Civil Rights Educational Freedom Experience, April 18-26, 2020.
Participants will embark on an inspiration-filled educational experience travelling south to explore the birth place of the Civil Rights Movement. Retracing the Freedom Trail and learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, the Mongomery Bus Boycott, the Greensboro Sit-ins, Voting Rights and other significant events of the American Civil Rights Movement. Other sites visited will include the Lorraine Motel, Central High School, the home of Medgar Evers and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Traveling on a state-of-the-art bus equipped with WiFi. The Maryland Civil Rights Educational Experience was modeled from the idea of the Civil Rights Heritage Tour initiated from the work of the Raleigh North Carolina Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee and Bruce Lightner the committee Founder. See Tentative Tour Itinerary and Flyer here. Click here for more details.
Sponsored by the Montgomery County Maryland Office of Human Rights.
Posted December 19, 2019
2018 Hate Crime Report, Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations
Since 1980, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations has compiled, analyzed, and produced an annual report of hate crime data submitted by sheriff and city police agencies, educational institutions, and community-based organizations.
Using information from the report, the Commission sponsors a number of ongoing programs related to preventing and combating hate crime, including the Network Against Hate Crime. L.A. County is one of the best trained jurisdictions in hate crime investigation and prosecution, and the Commission produces one of the longest standing reports in the nation documenting hate crime.
The report has been disseminated broadly to policy-makers, law enforcement agencies, educators, and community groups throughout Los Angeles County and across the nation in order to better inform efforts prevent, detect, report, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes. Read report here.
Posted November 25, 2019
IAOHRA INFO ALERT!
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking intended to clarify the civil rights protections afforded to religious organizations that contract with the federal government. The proposed rule ensures that conscience and religious freedom are given the broadest protection permitted by law. The proposed rule is currently available for public inspection.
The proposed rule is rooted in statute, Supreme Court decisions, and Executive Orders. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes a critical, protective exemption for religious organizations. A similar exemption is included in Executive Order 11246 and OFCCP’s regulations, which govern certain employment practices of federal contractors. Recent Supreme Court decisions - Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores - further address the protections afforded religious organizations and individuals under the Constitution and federal law. Executive Orders 13798, Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty, and 13831, Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative, along with U.S. Department of Justice guidance, likewise instruct federal agencies to protect religious exercise and not impede it.
Comments must be submitted electronically at , the Federal eRulemaking Portal by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. Comments must be submitted by September 16, 2019.
Posted September 9, 2019
Lessons Learned - Letter to Editor
4 Lessons Learned at PHRC While Combatting Hate, Chad Lassiter. Executive Director, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission reflects on what he's learned after a year on the job.
Posted September 13, 2019
Statement of International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies and Individual Local and State Government Human Rights Agencies Condemning the Conditions of Detention of Undocumented Immigrants
The International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies, a network of state and local government human rights agencies, together with the undersigned individual member and non-member government human rights agencies, enforce local and/or state human rights and civil rights laws, and work to promote and further human rights principles and positive intergroup relations across the United States. As human rights leaders, we condemn the conditions under which undocumented immigrants are being held in U.S. immigration detention, specifically the conditions of detention of children, pregnant immigrants, and immigrants with disabilities and other medical needs, and the separation of families. The failure to provide sanitary housing conditions, including, but not limited to, adequate space and comfort for sleeping; adequate water, nutrition, and access to food; comprehensive medical attention and access to medication; and adequate hygiene, including showers, soap, hygiene products, toothbrushes, and toothpaste, violates basic human rights precepts demanding that all people be treated with dignity and respect, and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of national origin and ethnicity. As domestic human rights experts, we are compelled to speak out against such gross disregard for the human rights and dignity of undocumented immigrants and call on all human rights officials to join us in our demand to end these deplorable conditions of detention immediately, which endanger not only the health, safety, and welfare of those held in detention but also their families and communities.
New York City Commission on Human Rights (New York, New York)
Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (Los Angeles, CA)
Posted July 5, 2019
IAOHRA welcomes Prince George’s County Maryland Human Relations Commission Executive Director, Renée Battle-Brooks
Renée Battle-Brooks is the daughter of missionary parents and was born in Accra Ghana. She graduated high school from Beirut Overseas School in Beirut, Lebanon. She attended Middle East University in Beirut, Lebanon and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, in Takoma Park, Maryland. Ms. Battle-Brooks earned her Juris Doctor at the University Of Baltimore School Of Law. This is her 27th year of practicing law, the first 8 of which were with the Public Defenders Office for the State of Maryland. For nearly 19 years, she has worked as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, Maryland. Her duties have included Chief of the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault and Vulnerable Adult Unit where she prosecuted those who sought to harm children, including sexual exploitation and child pornography cases. Her final assignment in the Office of the State’s Attorney was serving on the Community Prosecution team where she dealt with a variety of issues to include human trafficking and other community issues.
December 2019, Ms. Battle-Brooks began a new assignment as she was appointed the Executive Director of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission. The Human Relations Commission is the county’s civil and human rights education and enforcement agency and is responsible for eradicating discrimination in all forms for all who work, live, play and visit within the boundaries of Prince George’s County. Further, the Human Relations Commission is responsible for organizing and managing the task force identifying and recovering victims of human trafficking, increasing prosecution of traffickers and education the public in its role as the chair of the Prince George’s Human Trafficking Task Force. Finally, the Human Relations Commission is responsible for overseeing initiatives that protect through legal representation county residents in federal custody under threat of deportation and is responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing an equal language access protocol for all residents to access equally county agencies, programs and benefits.
In her spare time, she lends her services to community issues and groups to include MCASA’s [Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault] board where she served as President of the board and Past President of the board. She currently serves as a board member of ADRA International, and the Columbia Union Executive Committee. Ms. Battle-Brooks is a violinist and plays regularly with the New England Symphonic Ensemble. She has performed in numerous venues with the orchestra, including Washington’s Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, New York City, St. Martin in the Fields, London, England, the Jerash International Music Festival, Amman Jordan, and many other venues in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Posted April 8, 2019
Report on School Discipline Disproportionality in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
The Evansville Commission on the Social Status of African American Males commissioned the School Discipline Disproportionality in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation and the School-to-Prison Pipeline Report to examine school discipline disproportionality and the School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP) in Evansville. The report provides data on the prevalence of discipline disproportionality in the Evansville Vanderburgh County public schools and analyzes contributing factors that may result in our youth experiencing poor educational outcomes and possibly incarceration.
Posted March 27, 2019
2019 IAOHRA Conference Workshop Proposal Form
We hope you will join us at the 2019 IAOHRA Conference in Orlando, Florida. We are preparing an informative and exciting agenda for this year's conference. If you have any suggestions regarding workshops that you would like to see included please complete the Workshop Proposal Form. Your submission will be considered by the Board and conference planning committee, and you will be contacted by a member of the planning committee on or before Friday, May 24, 2019 regarding your proposal. Please email completed form to
Posted March 13, 2019
Toolkit for Advaning Gender Equity
Across the US, local advocates and local governments are looking to human rights to foster broader based approaches to advancing gender equity, focusing on eradicating negative stereotypes, and identifying and addressing barriers to equality for women and girls by adopting principles of CEDAW- the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
CEDAW offers a framework to foster gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women. It defines what constitutes discrimination against women broadly to encompass laws and policies that negatively affect women’s human rights, and identifies pathways to more equitable opportunities and outcomes in a wide range of areas.
IAOHRA passed a resolution in support of CEDAW in 2017 – calling on its members to support municipal, county, and state-wide policy efforts to affirm the rights of women, eliminate all forms of discrimination, advance gender equity, and promote and affirm the principles of CEDAW. This is an important foundation for affirmative, proactive approach to advancing women’s rights and achieving the transformative change.
To support IAOHRA’s efforts, the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute published a Gender Equity Toolkit. Developed in partnership with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and UNA-USA, the toolkit highlights specific ways that state and local agencies and officials can utilize CEDAW to promote and protect women’s rights, including: fostering human rights education and awareness; assessing the status of women through a gender analysis; and incorporating CEDAW principles into local law and policy.
The Toolkit offers a menu of activities that can strengthen protection for women’s rights, and serve as a springboard for local, city, and state efforts to break down the barriers that continue to impede full equality for women.
More About CEDAW:
According to CEDAW, governments must:
Affirmatively identify the factors that perpetuate inequality, and take steps to mitigate them.
Take measures to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life, including to ensure women’s right to vote and to hold public office.
Foster equal access and non-discrimination in relation to education, employment, and health.
Adopt policies to advance women’s economic stability, including equal pay and paid maternity leave.
Address violence against women through efforts to identify its root causes, focus on prevention, and prioritize redress for survivors.
In order to ensure equal enjoyment of rights for all women, CEDAW calls for policies that reflect the ways that individual’s multiple identities, including her race, nationality, disability, age, as well as economic and social status, impact her enjoyment of rights, and calls for targeted and culturally-appropriate solutions.
A longer blog on the relevance of CEDAW is here:
The toolkit can be found here: https://www.law.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/microsites/clinics/human-rights/january_2019_iaohra_toolkit_0.pdf.
Posted February 19, 2019
IAOHRA Day on Capitol Hill
The IAOHRA Board of Directors will hold a Board Meeting and Strategic Planning Retreat in Washington, DC, February 19-21, 2019, and we would like to invite you to attend the IAOHRA Day on Capitol Hill, Thursday, February 21.
The Board’s Legislative Committee will schedule meetings with key legislators and we encourage you to schedule meetings with representatives from your jurisdiction. The purpose of these meetings is to educate lawmakers about IAOHRA and its mission, and how IAOHRA can be a resource to them on civil and human rights matters. The issues that may be discussed include:
Funding of key civil and human rights agencies to include the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing programs, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice – specifically the Community Relations Service
Civil Rights Legislation to include H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which would significantly reform the Voting Rights Act
These strategic legislative visits will take place on Thursday, February 21 from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. We encourage all attending IAOHRA members to also schedule meetings with representatives from your state from 11:00 PM-1:00 PM to discuss IAOHRA’s Legislative Priorities. We will also provide you with IAOHRA talking points. Click here to find your representative on the House of Representatives. Click here to find your representatives on the Senate.
If you would like to attend IAOHRA Day on Capitol Hill, please email Beverly Watts at or Diane Clements-Boyd at . It will be helpful if we can anticipate the number of IAOHRA members that will be attending.
In these uncertain times, it is imperative that IAOHRA’s voices be heard as we advocate for continued support and advancement of civil and human rights in the U.S. Please join IAOHRA in Washington, DC on February 21!
Download Printer Friendly version here.
Posted January 16, 2019
Remembering the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the Memphis sanitation workers and their supporters, in what would be his final speech. In it, he spoke of having been to the mountaintop. He said: "I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land." HISTORY, in collaboration with The King Center, asked a group of modern-day history makers to give us their vision of the future. What do they see from their mountaintop? See interviews here.
Posted January 16, 2019