RFK Human Rights Award Recipient to deliver MLK Day 2014 Keynote Address at Ithaca College

12/16/2013

Contributed by John Rawlins

The 2014 MLK Campus-Wide Celebration Planning Committee is excited to announce Librada Paz as our keynote speaker for this year's MLK Day celebration. She will speak at our main celebration event on Monday, January 20, 2014 at 4:00pm in Emerson Suites, part of the 2014 celebration with the theme "A Single Garment of Destiny."

Ms. Paz's keynote is part of Ithaca College's day of events on Monday, 20, 2014.  For more information on the day, please visit http://www.ithaca.edu/sacl/osema/mlkcelebration/.

Librada Paz is a Council Member of Western New York for the Rural and Migrant Ministry (RMM) and one of the main heads for RMM's Justice for Farmworkers Campaign (JFW). She has been a tireless leader in New York’s farmworker human rights movement for 20 years.

At the age of 15, Ms. Paz and her sister migrated to the United States to join their brothers and began working in the fields as soon as she arrived. Her life as a farmworker consisted of sharing living quarters with as many as 16 people and chasing seasonal work around the country. She experienced firsthand the hardships of sub-standard housing, long hours in grueling heat, and the constant moves to follow seasonal crops. Even worse, as a young female farmworker, she suffered physical and sexual abuse by labor contractors and growers who were in positions of power. After enduring the many hardships in agricultural labor for 15 years, she settled in New York and obtained her immigration status. She stopped working in the farms and instead engaged in the struggle as an activist and a voice for farmers.

Currently, Ms. Paz conducts her human rights advocacy with the Rural Migrant Ministry (RMM), an organization founded in 1981 that focuses on rectifying the various injustices that farmworkers face. It is a statewide, non-sectarian organization that seeks rural justice through three programs: accompaniment, education, and youth empowerment. Its mission is to create a just rural New York state by standing with the disenfranchised (especially farm and rural workers), promoting their leadership, and addressing unjust systems and structures. She is the 2012 recipient of the RFK Human Rights Award Award, given by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. "For years, through late nights and early mornings, RMM and I have organized workers to advocate for change, and this new partnership with the RFK Center will help us have an even greater impact. I'm delighted to be recognized and eager to begin our work together fighting for workers' rights."

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact OSEMA at osema@ithaca.edu or (607) 274-3222. We ask that requests for accommodations be made as soon as possible.

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