More than 300 officials from a wide swath of professional backgrounds will meet at SMU this Saturday for “Human Rights Dallas,” a day-long event that will look at everything from child abuse and human trafficking to the penal system and the rise in hate groups in Texas.

Summit organizers, the Embrey Human Rights Program in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, are hoping to help organizations better understand human rights issues in Texas and possibly work together to find solutions.

“The goal of ‘Human Rights Dallas’ is to create a culture for people in for-profit and non-profit fields to not only get involved in issues they care about, but also to form a coalition dedicated to ensuring all people’s rights are protected,” says Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.

The summit was inspired by some alarming facts:

• Texas has the largest number of hate groups

• Texas ranks second in the U.S. for human trafficking crime.

• Texas leads the nation in the number of people exonerated by wrongful convictions while also leading in the number of state-sanctioned executions.

• Texas ranks high in the number of children who die from abuse and neglect – and is the No. 1 state for hot car-related fatalities involving children and infants.

• Texas is home to the nation’s largest number of people without health insurance.


“Currently there are 84 active hate groups in the state, 56 of which are Neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups – 11 of them in North Texas,” says Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. “As the country faces this dramatic incline, there’s no better time to come together to promote human rights in our community.”


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