Michaelmas 2016: The State of the States

At the beginning of November, just before the American election, we decided that it was time to address some of the crucial human rights debates currently going on in the USA. Such a diverse topic requires a diverse range of experiences and mediums, so we were very pleased to be able to host a whole range of people with different perspectives on the issues of human rights in the US. This is why our multimedia event used poetry, comedy and discussion to try and deal with some of the complex issues surround human rights in the US
Blaire Andres, from Reprieve, gave a very important first hand account of Reprieve’s work for individuals on death row and how inhumane some of the execution methods are. Kate Dunbar followed this with a very insightful discussion of the problems of the US justice system, especially in relation to the war on drugs and how this linked to racism.
It was not all so serious, however. Speeches and first hand accounts are important to address certain issues but we also wanted to give people a chance to deal with some of these issues through a more artistic medium. We were delighted to have a hilarious performance from some of the members of the Trump’d cast, who gave us a lively performance of some of their best numbers. Our screening of Border Bedazzlers, a film about children painting the Mexican/American border wall, was an uplifting reminder of the little acts of goodness that can be used to brighten even the most difficult situation. We finally ended our night with a beautiful performance of poetry by Phoebe Thompson, who dealt with some of the most difficult issues in the US, including race, refugees and security through her simple and inspiring poetry.
We were so happy that we were able to bring this diverse group of people together to create such an engaging and well-rounded performance that got to the heart of what struggles human rights campaigners in the US face. It was lovely to see so many people there and talking to the audience afterwards showed us that this is a cause that many people feel passionate about and we will continue to fight against human rights in the US and abroad.


Contributor: Laura Bates


Blaire Andres, human rights lawyer from Reprieve, delivering a fascinating talk

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