Return to the Source: Advancing a Radical Human Rights Culture as a Weapon for Liberation
Holding SHROC in Atlanta is like coming home. In December 2000, SHROC held its 3rd biennial convening in the A. This historic gathering was the first U.S. Preparatory Conference of the World Conference Against Racism, which was held in August 2001 in Durban, South Africa. We return to Atlanta now to connect, strategize and organize. We return to Atlanta to unite with organizers who are on multiple front lines of struggle against hetero-patriarchy, homophobia, global white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, imperialism and so much more.
The City of Atlanta has long been considered the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. Its rich history of hosting and birthing iconic organizations and individuals have helped support Black freedom struggles and the fight for human rights...
In the 1970s, Atlanta became known as the “Black Mecca” and billed itself as the City Too Busy to Hate, attracting Black businesses and Black entertainment with a working-class ethos that kept the city thriving.
Atlanta and the state of Georgia more broadly have a flip side. Bald-face racism and white supremacy have also been a hallmark of Georgia social and political dynamics. Atlanta, GA was the seat of the Confederacy and despite its history of segregation only experienced a single race riot in 1906, which killed scores of Black people.
Many believe that Black church leaders and white economic interests colluded to form an alliance at the exclusion and domination of the mostly Black underclass, which is popularly known as The Atlanta Way. While making Atlanta a less volatile space during the 1960’s upheaval, it has led to economic oppression that still persists.
Despite the Black upsurgence in electoral politics, Atlanta leads the nation in income inequality and has one of the highest per capita poverty indexes and economic immobility. Today the city is facing a decline in its Black population as its economics have tilted toward business interest above those of the working class. Gentrification through costly housing stock is rapidly dismantling entire communities, as poor residents are pushed out of their homes and away from the city and their extended family networks. Immigrant populations are under siege through ICE rapids, detention and deportation efforts. The city and region face growing environmental injustices undergirded by a refusal to expand mass public transit to all.
Poor and working-class residents continue to suffer under conditions of food apartheid (mischaracterized as “food deserts”), where residents lack access to fresh, healthful, and affordable foods and land ownership. In other areas such as education, Atlanta’s public schools continue to rank among the state’s lowest performers and lowest funded, while public education monies are siphoned away from students into private development projects. Within the schools, students face hostile learning environments created by increased criminalization, underpaid and under supported teachers, and ineffective, high-stakes learning methods. Meanwhile, police and other forms of state violence continue to mount against marginalized peoples and communities.
For both its history of resistance and its continued efforts to erode human rights, Atlanta serves as an apt site for SHROC XII. The Conference’s purpose is to bring organizers, human rights defenders, and community activists together to commune, strategize, and amplify work taking place across the global south in order to advance a sustainable and thriving human rights culture in Atlanta and beyond.
HISTORY OF SHROC
The first Southern Human Rights Organizers’ Conference (SHROC I), was held at the University of Mississippi School of Law in Oxford from September 19-21, 1996 at the initiation of veteran human rights defender, Attorney Jaribu Hill. On May 17, 1996 at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi, Hill convened a meeting of representatives from more than 30 local, regional and national organizations. At this meeting, a Planning Committee was formed to organize SHROC I. SHROC I brought together more than 200 activists and organizers from the Deep South and other parts of the US and world, with representatives from India and South Africa. In December 2016, SHROC celebrated its 20th Anniversary at Tougaloo College. To date, SHROCs have been biannually held in Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida and Alabama. This year, December 7-9, SHROC XII will return to Atlanta, Georgia.
Please join us and register today: Early Bird and Student/Limited Income are all available now. SHROC is a gathering of grassroots organizers and human rights defenders from across the U.S. and Global South. We are committed to respecting, protecting, and defending human rights wherever oppressed peoples exist, through a radical, comprehensive understanding of those rights.
Coming soon! Check back later for plenary speakers, strategy session details, youth summit agenda, cultural explosion performers, information on the local action, and the list of 2018 Fannie Lou Hamer Human Rights Defenders award recipients.