A three-day event focusing on human rights was held at Florida Atlantic University’s campus earlier this month. The event celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and concluded with awards and accolades in honor of the recognized human rights leaders.
The symposium had a strong representation from the LGBTQIA+ community with the presentation of the Eleanor Roosevelt and Shulamith Koenig Courage in Human Rights award to Jackie Katushabe, who accepted the award from a refugee camp in Kenya. Robert Kesten, the Executive Director of Stonewall National Museum, Archives and Library, was one of the award presenters and featured speakers throughout the three-day event.
Jackie Katushabe: Eleanor Roosevelt & Shulamith Koenig Courage in Human Rights Award:
The award was presented to Jackie Katushabe, a mother and Ugandan refugee currently residing in a refugee camp in Kenya. She was recognized for her fearless work for her fellow Kenyan refugees displaced from their home in Uganda. The LGBTQ+ community in these nations is facing severe persecution and is often under the threat of death. Despite the risks, Katushabe stands up and speaks out for their rights. Her courage and determination have already saved many lives, and this recognition is hoped to provide additional protection to her and others like her.
India Marshall: Spirit of Human Rights Student Award
India Marshall is a student in her third year at Florida Atlantic University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Art History. Her vision is to bring diversity, creativity and adaptability to the forefront of the arts and museums industry. In addition to her academic pursuits, India is an ardent environmental and human rights activist. She holds leadership positions in organizations such as the Southern Utah Wilderness Association and the Sierra Club, where she works towards protecting sacred land and people. Marshall invests most of her time volunteering and traveling with these organizations to places such as Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., North Florida, the Western United States, and Nature Reserves. She organizes protests, holds discussions with legislators, and much more. After graduation, Marshall plans to further her education by pursuing a Master’s in Education while pursuing a career in human rights activism, focusing on building a brighter future for the next generation.
Josephine Beoku-Betts: Spirit of Human Rights Faculty Award
Professor Emerita of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Josephine Beoku-Betts has an impressive resume. She has held several prestigious positions, including past President of Sociologists for Women in Society (2020-2021) and past co-president of RC 32 (Research Committee on Women, Gender, and Society) of the International Sociological Association (2014-2018). She has also been a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Sierra Leone (2011-2012, 2018-2019). She has received several awards, including the Sociologists for Women in Society Feminist Activism Award (2014) and the Florida Commission on the Status of Women Florida Achievement Award (2012).
Andrea Levine O’Rourke: Spirit of Human Rights Community Member Award
Andrea Levine O’Rourke was elected official on the Boca Raton City Council from 2017-2023, including a stint as Deputy Mayor from 2020-2023. Throughout her term, she held various roles and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to making a difference. Her strong civic dedication materialized through community leadership, focusing on mentorship, placemaking, public art, culture, education, and resident involvement. Her most rewarding experiences came from being a role model for young people and a leader dedicated to making her community a better place for everyone.
Robert Kesten, Executive Director, Stonewall National Museum, Archives and Library
Robert Kesten is a global activist dedicated to promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and advancing democracy worldwide. He has achieved this through various means, such as producing an award-winning documentary on the Holocaust at the Concentration Camps in Poland, participating in the development of the Ghanaian Constitution, organizing events that led to Ukrainian independence, and coordinating events for the first AIDS day treatment center in the nation. Kesten has also been instrumental in advocating for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Ukraine, making it the first Soviet Republic to do so. With his national and international experience, Kesten joins the Stonewall National Museum and Archives team, where he brings ideas to life. This opportunity brings his active engagement in the LGBTQ+ community full circle. It allows him to use history to make sense of the present and shape a response for today and tomorrow.
Photo caption (L to R): Michael J. Horswell, PhD, Dean, Florida Atlantic University; India Marshall (Spirit of Human Rights Student Award); Josephine Beoku-Betts (Spirit of Human Rights Faculty Award); Robert Kesten, Executive Director, Stonewall-Museum.org (Accepting the International Courage in Human Rights Award for Jackie Katushab); Andrea Levine O’Rourke (Spirit of Human Rights Community Member Award) Photo Credit: Gina Fontana, Photographic Services Inc.