Contact: Adam Kruse, Assistant City Counselor
Law Department, City of Columbia
Staff Liaison to City Of Columbia Human Rights Commission
The City of Columbia Human Rights Commission has been recognized as Missouri's Local Human Rights Commission of the Year for 2013 by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.
Since its inception in 1974, the City of Columbia Human Rights Commission (HRC) has proactively advocated for the advancement of human rights as a means to improve the quality of life for all. The ordinances enforced by the HRC prohibit discrimination against all protected categories covered under state law and reach even further to shield persons from discrimination based on sexual orientation (since 1992) and gender identity (since 2011). Along with its strong record of investigating allegations of violations, the HRC facilitates early resolution of disputes through a dynamic mediation program in partnership with the University of Missouri School of Law. The extraordinary efforts made this year by the HRC to improve human relations in the community are many and evident - and all the more deserving of congratulations because the Commission's good work was carried out by just seven volunteer members and one City of Columbia attorney. These strides include: providing feedback and content for a new local fair housing website, raising awareness about service animal etiquette, and receiving Partnership initiative funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for a free Fair Housing Symposium co-sponsored by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. The HRC's devotion to public education was brought to life through its involvement in the Columbia Values Diversity Celebration, a presentation on race equality issues by television judge Glenda Hatchett, a training awareness program on gender neutral bathrooms, and an open discussion with Tibetan Monk Champa Lhunpo on the human rights crisis in Tibet. Always seeking creative ways to reach new audiences with civil rights messaging, the HRC assisted in a theatrical play promoting mutual respect and understanding of the challenges faced by immigrants and a documentary screening and panel discussion of the barriers faced by children of undocumented immigrants. The devotion of the City of Columbia Human Rights Commission reminds us of our collective responsibility to promote and protect the rights and dignity of all people.