This November, artists from around Tompkins County had the opportunity to enter their artwork in a competition held by the Tompkins County Department of Human Rights. The Department focuses on “different activities and contests to involve the youth of the county in issues impacting human rights,” according to Jonathan Wood, a county lawyer and the current head of the Department. He explained that this competition “continues that tradition.”
The competition was open to all students from grades 6 through 12, with various criteria for each level. The deadline for submissions was November 24, and judging takes place in December. The theme of the competition was the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, under Article II, serves to protect humans “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non–self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” Other articles in the Declaration discuss slavery, legal protection, and freedom of thought, religion, speech, and expression.
The purpose of the competition is to include young people in the political discussion. Wood believes that it is important for schoolchildren to join in the discussion of local, national and global issues, because students are the ones inheriting the keys to the world. He said, “Human rights should transcend politics . . . all people should have basic human rights that apply regardless of the political system.”
The entries ranged from visual art to short films and poetry. The winning entries will be displayed at the ceremony and published on the Department’s website, http://tompkinscountyny.gov/humanrights.
2015 “What would MLK say today?” adult section contest winner