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ADL to honor Washington University graduating class for combating racism

The St. Louis Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced that it will present the prestigious Torch of Liberty Award to the entire 2010 graduating class of Washington University in St. Louis. The class is being honored for its exemplary response following the biased targeting of six African-American classmates during the Senior Class visit to Chicago last fall.

ADL established the Torch of Liberty Award to celebrate those who, by word and deed, seek to preserve liberty, freedom, equality and democracy. It recognizes those who demonstrate significant leadership and courage in the face of bias and bigotry. The award will be presented during the senior class dinner on May 17th.

In the course of the class trip last October, six black students were racially profiled for wearing baggy pants and denied entry to Chicago-based Mother’s Bar. Their fellow students’ response was immediate and powerful. First, white students exchanged clothing with the black students, and immediately were permitted entry to the bar.

The class and its Leadership Council followed up with public protest, outreach to the media, and a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission.  A formal settlement between the bar and the students included a public apology to the students from Mother’s Bar, and implementation of ADL anti-bias training programs for Mother’s staff. 

The Torch of Liberty presentation will include a special Call to Action. ADL will work with the seniors to develop a web site to allow reporting of similar incidents from around the country and to develop race neutral policies that encourage bars, restaurants and other public accommodations not to use baggy pants and other dress codes as excuses for excluding black customers. They will work to link the nearly 1,200 graduating seniors -- who will be moving all over the country -- with resources to respond if they encounter such incidents again.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry. The St. Louis Regional office covers Eastern Kansas, Missouri and Southern Illinois.

ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute has provided anti-bias education and diversity training programs that explore the value of diversity, improve intergroup relations and combat racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry. The Institute has been active in the region since 1987.

 

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