Student Human Rights Summit uses past lessons to create better future

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CLEVELAND - As tensions between police and the community have escalated into protests locally and and across the nation, some students are using lessons from the past to create a better future.

More than 400 high school students from across the region gathered at Facing History New Tech High School in Cleveland on Wednesday for a day-long Human Rights Summit.

The students toured classroom exhibits on social justice and civil rights, including a documentary on race relations, which featured interviews with civil rights leaders from the 1960s.

“Instead of reading it out of a book and actually interviewing people that have been in that experience, it made me look at it a lot differently,” Junior Raven Reynolds said.

Full-length interviews were on display, and two of the people interviewed answered questions, including many from students wondering how recent demonstrations compare to the 60s.

“The demonstrations that you see today are similar to the demonstrations we had in the south during the 60s,” said Clarence Bozeman, who was included in the documentary. Bozeman was a driver for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Alabama while he was in college.

“I think that he would feel that it would be necessary to demonstrate non-violently, and he preached that unhesitatingly,” Bozeman said, adding he sees continuing systemic inequities that negatively impact African Americans.

Students said the lessons they've learned from the past can be applied today.

“It really helped us change our mind and thoughts. We can change this, and make it better today,” Junior Jorge Valle said.

Non-profit groups like Cleveland Rape Crisis, as well as anti-human trafficking groups were also on hand. This marked the second year for the annual summit.