NASHVILLE, TN — Tennesseans’ celebration of Human Rights Day includes a lifetime achievement award for Dr. Charles Kimbrough.
Membership surged and civil rights issues were addressed when Dr. Kimbrough led the Nashville branch of the NAACP. He established four branches and accomplished a great deal more.
Kimbrough and others will be honored 5-7 p.m. Dec. 6 in the First Amendment Center, 1207 18th Ave., S. Reserve a $10 seat at nashvillehumanrights.org.
International Human Rights Day commemorates the United Nations’ ratification Dec. 10, 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The commemoration is organized by Tennessee United for Human Rights, city and state Human Relations commissions, the U.N. Association, UNICEF, Tennessee Board of Regents, Amnesty International, the Church of Scientology and Muslim Women’s Council.
Asked if Donald Trump awakened sleeping dogs of racism, Kimbrough agreed, adding, “We must use what we fought so long to get. Don’t be apathetic and not use the right to regis- ter and vote. Be engaged. This is the second time we know people have been abused by the Democratic process,” Kimbrough said, recalling Al Gore’s loss to George Bush and Hillary Clinton’s recent loss.
President Obama’s accomplishments include “Obama Care,” Kimbrough said, praising economic policies guiding America from the Great Recession. Obama is trying to keep the nation strong and not at war, he said.
Kimbrough was largely responsible for the exhumation of Ronald Joyce in 1977, proving he was shot in the back, not confronting police. Kimbrough sought the resignation of Police Chief Joe Casey, who served 1973- 89.
At 89, he recalls with wife Blondell when, some 30 years ago, NAACP national president Michael Grant authorized Nashville’s branch to help William G. Allen who was paroled recently. Kimbrough’s prison ministry also worked for release of George French.
Kimbrough emphasizes he didn’t do any of those things alone.
He advocates peace- ful protest including Elks Club members refusing to patronize stores not paying living wages. He praises Mayor Megan Barry’s Round Table discussions on race relations, and his church’s relations with a white church.
Born near Pulaski, Tenn., Dr. Kimbrough is the first African American to get a state license to practice veterinary medicine, not just teach it as restricted before 1960. He’s a graduate of Tennessee Agricultural and Indus- trial State University and Tuskegee Institute having used the GI Bill after earning a Purple Heart, Medical Combat Award and Bronze Star in the Korean War.
NAACP branches exist in Pulaski and Waverly, Tenn., and in DuQuoin and Sparta, Ill. because of Kimbrough. He led protests against closure of Pearl High School. Pearl-Cohn High School is a result.
Others being honored Dec. 6 are rising advocates for human rights showing great promise. Anna Carella helps people in need, recently with Advocates for Women’s and Kids’ Equality. Fisk University senior Justin Jones advocates social justice and peace by organizing events, marches and protests. Mohamed Shukri helps the Tennessee Immigrants and Refugee Rights Coalition, American Center for Outreach and was on the first Mayor’s New Americans Advisory Council.
Outstanding Service award winners are: Juan Canedo for addressing is- sues for the wellbeing of Hispanics and the larger community, and empowering Hispanic immigrants; and Derri Smith, founder and executive director of End Slavery Tennessee.
“Hidden in Our Midst: Child Trafficking in Tennessee,” is the 2016 theme for Tennessee United for Human Rights. It’s planning committee will have experts sat the commemoration.