The Coeur D’Alene Human Rights Institute
Located in an historic brick building beside Coeur d’Alene city park, HREI programs and people energize area children, students, businesses, residents and visitors to integrate civil rights into their lives. Rachel Dolezal, curator and director of education, writes curricula and creates artistic exhibits.
Donna Cork, director of operations, manages administration and business issues. Both women are part of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.
The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations has sponsored numerous human rights public rallies and campaigns including a three day “Human Rights Congress” in Coeur d’Alene to counter the first Aryan Nations march in the city in July of 1986. In 1998 the Task Force produced 130,000 car and home display posters and an eight week in-depth newspaper series titled “In It Together”. Marshall Mend, a member of the Task Force and local realtor spearheaded all these advertising projects.
The Task Force has also supported several national and international human rights conferences with a special relationship with the Gonzaga University Institute for Hate Studies. In 1995 the Task Force was a founding sponsor of the “In It Together” anti-bullying program for the Coeur d’Alene and Lake City High School District with nationally known anti-bullying expert Stephen Wessler from Portland, Maine.
The Task Force supports the annual student human rights fundraiser at Coeur d’Alene and Lake Cities High Schools. This student sponsored campaign raises over $1,000 for the Task Force each year.
In a historic brick building beside Coeur d’Alene’s city park, exhibits and programs energize area children, students, businesses, residents and visitors to integrate awareness of human rights into their lives. The institute provides cultural education, raises awareness of critical issues and honors diversity through community partnerships.
Founded in 1998 by Victoria Keenan, a former Aryan Nations member who won a court victory that bankrupted the neo-Nazi group and gave her the facility, HREI renamed itself the Human Rights Institute in 2001. The institute receives its primary funding from a philanthropist and Idaho native.
The institute has hosted a number of events in recent years including the Anne Frank art exhibit and Young Advocates human rights camp for K-12 students. Other events include a Wednesday evening book club, homeless and transgender vigils in November, a Holocaust essay contest for area students and an annual Human Rights Banquet that features a keynote speaker, awards presentations and the use of a portion of banquet profits to fund minority student scholarships at North Idaho College.
HREI’s exhibit galleries host rotating human rights themes. A recent display chronicled the history of gay rights from the Stonewall riots to the founding of PFLAG in the 1970s and 1980s, AIDS awareness in the 1990s and political movements through today.
The institute opened in 1998 as an educational arm of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. It took a while to get it up and running, but it now has a historic building in downtown Coeur d’Alene that houses changing displays on topics such as the Constitution of the United States of America and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The institute also hosts human rights speakers. Past events have included a Freedom Ride speaker who recounted her experience with James Meredith during the civil rights movement, and an exhibit on women who pushed for equality in the workplace.
The institute is located in an historic building beside Coeur d’Alene city park. Its exhibit galleries and programs energize area students, businesses, residents and visitors to integrate awareness of human rights into their lives. Founded in 1981 as the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations in response to harassment from Aryan Nations, the task force became a model for Idaho and national efforts against hate. Its lawsuit against Aryan Nations bankrupted the neo-Nazis and enabled the creation of HREI. The institute continues to work to transform hearts and minds by promoting and teaching the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.S. Constitution and other legal documents that establish the equal dignity and worth of every person. For more information, call or visit HREI.