image of conference roomOn Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, the Westchester County Human Rights Commission celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, with a keynote and panel discussion entitled “Freedom of Speech – The Double Edged Sword”, at Pace Law School, Tudor Room, 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY.

Jerrice Duckette Epps, Esq. Acting Executive Director opened with a discussion of the Commissions’ enforcement powers and its recent education and outreach initiatives which include an implementation plan proposed to address Hate Incidents in Westchester county. On behalf of the Commission Board Ms. Epps invited all to attend a public meeting on Dec. 17, 2018 at the White Plains Public Library from 6 -8 p.m. and provide comments regarding the plan.

Rev. Doris K. Dalton, Commission Board Chair and Executive Director of the Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Non-Violence brought welcoming remarks with a special greeting to community members, leaders and advocates who work in the trenches to eliminate discrimination every day.

County Executive George Latimer brought greetings and provided historical context for 70th anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the creation of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission. Additionally he provided updates regarding recent legislation that expanded the Westchester County Human Rights Law such as the Immigrant Protection Act, Wage History, Fairness in Co-op Housing and “Ban the Box” Legislation.

Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins the first woman and African American to serve as Senate Majority Leader in New York State government history and founder of the Commission also spoke. She reflected that when she served as a member of the Westchester County Legislature some opposed the creation of the Commission because they did not think discrimination existed in Westchester County. She reported that discrimination existed in 2000 when the Commission was created and that it continues to exist today. She reminded us to remain vigilant in our efforts to eliminate discrimination in Westchester County. She also spoke of the contributions and racial barriers broken by Greenburgh Resident and Tulsa Race Riot survivor Dr. Olivia Hooker.

Westchester County Attorney John Nonna, Esq. introduced the Keynote speaker Kristin Clarke, Esq. President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who delivered the keynote who spoke about the “Stop Hate” project. Ms. Clarke reminded the audience that we must all be willing to have courageous conversations.

The keynote was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Randolph M. McLaughlin, Esq., Professor of Law, Elizabeth Haub School of Law Pace University and panelists include Kristen Clarke, Esq., President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Debra S. Cohen, Esq., Professor of Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Bennett L. Gershman, Esq. Professor of Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, Melanie Robbins, Director of Community Engagement of the Anti-Defamation League, New York and Shannon Wong, Executive Director, Lower Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The Westchester County Human Rights Commission sincerely appreciates all who attended and participated in the very informative and productive conversation.

Jerrice Duckette Epps, Esq.
Westchester County Human Rights Commission
Acting Executive Director


Photos from the event


image of speakers at a podium Jerrice Epps with County Executive George Latimer
image of speaker at conferenceAndrea Steward-Cousins
image of audience Attendees at commission celebration