By: Jennifer Sarrett, Ph.D.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Although this is the only direct declaration of health as a human right within the declaration, many of the other rights are directly or indirectly related to human health. Enjoying a “right to life, liberty and security of person” (Article 3) is mediated by good health and challenged in poor health. Enjoying your “right to work” (Article 23) and “right to education” (Article 26) is difficult without access to proper nutrition or health care. Being subject to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (Article 5) has direct implications on an individual’s health. Political, social, legal, and familial participation and recognition (Articles 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 27) rely upon the individual to obtain and sustain good health. In other words, health and human rights are deeply connected.
On June 23, 2014, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights opened its doors to the public. The Center is located in Pemberton Place® adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium, on land donated by the Coca-Cola Company. This 43,000-square-foot facility host three exhibits and a wall featuring rotating murals that highlight various human rights concerns. Currently, this wall displays a mural by Baltimore street artists, Gaia, based on the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, which exposes media portrayals of black victims of violence. Next to the wall, The Voice to the Voiceless exhibit displays selections from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. collection while the Rolls Down Like Water exhibit directly upstairs tells the story of the American Civil Rights Movement. This exhibit houses the award-winning interactive lunch counter experience, which aims to provide visitors a simulation of the experience of participating in the lunch counter sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement. Finally, the third floor houses an interactive exhibit dedicated to The Global Human Rights Movement. This exhibit, titled Spark of Conviction, includes a description and definition of human rights, features profiles of major human rights activists, and describes ways our everyday activities and choices relate to certain human rights abuses.
The Destination HealthEU news team recently visited the museum with the aim of highlighting the explicit and implicit ways in which the human rights issues included in these exhibits relate to issues of human health. In the coming weeks, we will present our findings and interpretations of the ways human rights and human health intersect using our museum experiences as the foundation. We will discuss physiological reactions to participating in civil rights movements , the health-related issues major activists are addressing in the current human rights work, and the ways our daily activities can lead to diminishing the health and human rights of individuals around the world.
We would like to thank David Mandel, the Director of Exhibitions and Design, for meeting with us and guiding us though the museum.
Keep an eye out for these posts and consider making a visit to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights yourself!