The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi has been honored by the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies, or IAOHRA, with its 2012 International Award.
The accolade from the nonprofit organization devoted to promoting civil and human rights around the world was presented in New Orleans. The Winter Institute’s international efforts have been connected to supporting its work in Mississippi.
“We are so grateful to the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies,” said Susan Glisson, Winter Institute executive director. “Most clearly, our work is grounded in the sacrifices and leadership of community leaders throughout Mississippi, with whom we have the honor of working. We share this recognition with all of you.”
Both the Winter Institute and IAOHRA value collaborative leadership and sharing information from sites of conflict around the world, Glisson said. The institute has already begun negotiations to collaborate with both the Youth Link in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the Apartheid Archives Project at the University of WitSwaterrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.“Our network of partnerships continues to expand,” she said. “Most recently, we received an invitation from the University of the Free State, a multicampus public university in Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State and the judicial capital of South Africa. The new and first black president there wants our help in establishing a high school-oriented curriculum for their new institute of racial reconciliation. I have been invited to be a visiting scholar there in 2013.
“To have others from around the world looking to the state of Mississippi for leadership in racial reconciliation is a testament to all Mississippians.”
The Winter Institute was selected for the award because it demonstrated outstanding work in civil and human rights internationally and has positively impacted the world beyond U.S. shores, said Shawn Martel Moore, IAOHRA president.
“The Winter Institute impressed the IAOHRA committee with its work launched in November of 2011 involving leaders from across the United States, Belfast, Northern Ireland and Cape Town, South Africa to explore and deepen shared understandings, effective practices and strategies and creative collaborations in service to advance civil and human rights internationally,” Moore said. “Inspired by the work of the Mississippi Truth Project and the Welcome Table, clearly this courageous and innovative initiative by the Winter Institute stood head and shoulders above other candidates.”
The institute’s use of specific models, such as truth and reconciliation, conflict transformation and racial reconciliation was viewed as significant and critical by IAOHRA to continue to have human rights become a core value in every society.
“We were excited, especially with the work planned in South Africa in the month of September,” Moore said.
UM officials congratulated Glisson and the Winter Institute for their recognition.
“The award is evidence of the Winter Institute’s rising prominence within the community of race relations and human rights,” said Glenn Hopkins, dean of UM’s College of Liberal Arts.
Established in 1949, IAOHRA is the oldest human and civil rights organization for agencies, directors and commissioners who are engaged in the field of human and civil rights work. The membership has agencies throughout the U.S., with affiliations in Canada and the Virgin Islands.