Dorothy Q. Thomas spoke to an engaged crowd at the 18th Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Human Rights last week. The lecture, titled “Are American’s Human: An Ex-Patriot’s Guide to the Future of Progressive Politics in the U.S.” also served as the keynote to the Human Rights Institute’s conference, “Human Rights in the USA.”
Thomas, a self-described progressive, gave the audience a personal, and at times moving look at the journey that has shaped her into the highly respected independent human rights consultant of today. Those personal insights, coupled with her undeniable sense of humor, engaged the crowd into a conversation about what it means to be progressive in the United States. Ms. Thomas, who often posed questions to the crowd, asked if a progressive could also be a patriot?
She used her personal stories, including the early days of her professional career working for the civil rights movement up through today where she works on behalf of human rights in the United States, to challenge the crowd to consider what being a patriot means, how the continued struggle for human rights can be a catalyst for inclusion of differing views, and whether those with progressive views will be able to find friendlier times ahead where they are not to be made to feel like traitors to their own land. At the end of the lecture, a first year law school student who is also serving in the military, thanked Ms. Thomas for her views. As a member of the military, he said, it is difficult to be progressive and still be accepted by your peers.