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Archive for Monday, September 12, 2005

9-11 anniversary puts focus on civil rights

Activists share their messages through The September Project, Freedom Fair

September 12, 2005

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Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and Lawrence organizations commemorated the anniversary by taking a close look at how the incident affected civil rights and other related issues.

At the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt., about 50 people attended various group sessions that took place throughout the afternoon, including one on gathering information and staying informed about such major incidents for years afterward.

While newspapers and broadcast news have traditionally been the first to bring the world news of tragedies, the Internet now also plays a key role, said Tami Albin, acting head of instructional services at Kansas University libraries. Critical thinking is a necessity, she said.

"Critical thinking is a lifelong process, and the more we do it, the better we become at it," she said. "You have to be able to assess the information. You have to be able to ask questions about something you don't understand."

The library sessions were organized by The September Project, a grassroots effort that resulted in similar events across the U.S. and in 25 countries. Local panelists were KU faculty, community organization leaders and others.

This year's event grew from a few small groups of people who attended last year's gathering at KU. Next year, organizers hope to expand it further to include Haskell Indian Nations University and Lawrence public schools, said Michael Sweeney, one of the coordinators.

At the Lawrence South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass., more than a dozen activist and service organizations set up tables and distributed fliers and brochures about the issues they are involved in.

The Freedom Fair event not only allows the public to learn about the issues, but the different groups learn what each are doing and that they are not alone in their fight for civil rights, said Phil Minkin, president of the Douglas County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Among the groups represented was Apoyo Trabajador de Lawrence, or Migrant Worker Solidarity of Lawrence. The organization works with the Lawrence Latino Coalition to assist migrant workers with problems they encounter, representative Ray Eli Rojas said.

Rojas said it was not known how many migrant workers there are in Douglas County, but it appears that there are a growing number of them. Many of them work in landscaping, construction and restaurant jobs, he said.

"It's a growing issue and we want Lawrence to be ahead of it instead of trying to catch up," Rojas said.

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