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Georgia activists issue ‘New Appeal for Human Rights’

A diverse coalition of young Georgia college students and veteran activists has issued a “New Appeal for Human Rights,” modeled on the 1960 “Appeal for Human Rights” black civil rights advocates published in Atlanta newspapers to combat segregation. 

The new appeal protests discrimination in the justice system; abuse of farmworkers; Islamophobia; and policies that block unauthorized immigrants from attending some of Georgia’s top universities and paying in-state tuition rates at other state schools. The appeal also protests a new Georgia law aimed at cutting state funding to private universities that declare themselves "sanctuary campuses" in defiance of President Donald Trump's immigration policies. 

And it calls for “de-escalation training” for police, increased access to healthcare, more affordable housing in Atlanta and a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration system with a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants. 

“We stand in solidarity with each other and will protect each other,” the new appeal says. “To come for one of us is to come for all of us. In honor of the courageous students who previously carried the torch, and those who will lead the struggle after us, we commit ourselves to carrying on the fight for human rights as long as injustice exists anywhere. None of us are free until all of us are free.” 

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The signers include students from Agnes Scott, Morehouse and Spelman colleges; Emory and Georgia State universities; Georgia Tech; the University of Georgia; and Freedom University, a tuition-free school for immigrants without legal status. Laura Emiko Soltis, executive director of Freedom University, also signed the document. And some of those who were involved in the original appeal — Charles Black, Lonnie King and Roslyn Pope — helped guide the new effort. 

“Opponents of African-Americans being included under the umbrella of freedom, justice, and equality have been waging a relentless, campaign to overturn all the gains that were achieved in the 1960s,” said King, a Morehouse graduate and one of the founding members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a civil rights group. “However, the document written by this new generation of student activists clearly illustrates that the quest for a ‘just’ society continues to this day.”

Activists have repeatedly protested Georgia policies that bar unauthorized immigrants from attending some of the state’s top universities and paying in-state tuition at its other colleges. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

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