Laura Emiko Soltis (lesoltis), Editor: Emiko is a human rights educator, musician, and long-time student activist. Emiko earned an interdisciplinary degree in Human Rights at the University of Georgia, and is currently a PhD student at Emory University, where she is studying global social movements and ethnomusicology. Emiko’s extensive travels to Asia, Central America, Africa, and the South Pacific have had a significant impact on her identification as a global citizen, yet she is equally committed to building grassroots social justice coalitions in Atlanta and the Southeast. Emiko’s human rights experience includes work with Amnesty International, the Carter Center, and the U.S. Senate. Emiko hopes to continue her dedication to human rights as a teacher, or find work in the intersection of cultural programming and human rights education. Emiko loves triathlons, photography, and learning to play new musical instruments. Her heroes and heroines include Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Ida B. Wells, Rigoberta Menchú, Myles Horton, Howard Zinn, and Victor Jara. Emiko is confident that the Center for Civil and Human Rights will serve as a safe space for public education and debate that will nurture new global connections among youth, human rights advocates, and local communities.
Alicia Simoni (asimoni), Contributor: Alicia has spent much of the past decade as a practitioner, scholar, and activist promoting gender equality in the United Stated and internationally. She has extensive on-the-ground experience that includes working with women who are homeless in Baltimore City, Protestant women affected by the Troubles in Northern Ireland, women living in rural villages in Afghanistan, and women displaced by conflict in Northern Uganda. The women and men she meets during her travels as well as in her daily life in Washington, D.C. – individuals who are supporting one another and encouraging each other to challenge the status quo – are her inspiration. In 2007 Alicia completed a M.A. in International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Joan B. Kroc Institute. She currently works in the field of gender and peacebuilding – facilitating cross-cultural connections, documenting women’s unique perspectives, and highlighting the integral role human rights play in building peace.
Daji Kuweza (mtendaji), Contributor:
Daji is a transplanted Atlantan, who happily moved from New York in 1988. His primary work career has been as a software developer and technical writer. He matured amidst the assassinations, riots, triumphs and failures of the civil and human rights periods of 1960’s and 1970’s, and evolved into a student leader at New York University. Daji holds an MBA in International Business, a BS in Journalism, and a Certificate in Paralegal Studies. He has studied several foreign languages, including Swahili (from which his name derives), and most recently Chinese (Mandarin) and Tagalog (Filipino). While he has traveled to Africa, Asia and Europe, and various parts of the USA, he never feels that he has traveled enough or learned enough. His interests include the History of Technology, Languages and Cultures, and Intercultural Relations. He expects the Center for Civil and Human Rights to breathe new life into the idea that we share a responsibility for each other. He hopes that the Center’s efforts will result in a strengthened and more flexible effort to improve the human condition by understanding what has already been accomplished, how it happened, and thus stir our imagination for things that have yet to be done.
Mims Bledsoe (mbledsoe), Contributor: Mims is a native Atlantan excited to see the Center for Civil and Human Rights open in her city. She has always been interested in history, the story of the American South, and what it means to inherit a tradition. She is especially interested in the relationship between history and identity: how they shape, change, and rely on each other. She considers this subject and others as a graduate student in Philosophy and as a historical researcher. Mims hopes the Center for Civil and Human Rights will open the dialogue about past events and our present self-conceptions.
Matthew Jones (matthew), Contributor: Matthew likes words, cities, farms, and meeting strangers. He was born and raised in Arkansas to a native Arkansan and a French-Canadian from the prairie of Manitoba. Family tradition, the Blues, and a classics degree taught him that civic discourse is a responsibility and to dig deeply into the names we give ourselves and others. He tries to keep in mind a German saying about peoples’ differences: Wir sind alle Fremd! (We’re all foreigners!) He’s excited to see the discussions and education about the universal rights that unite us find a home in the Center for Civil and Human Rights.