Columbia Commission on Human Rights named best in Missouri for 2013

Friday, January 17, 2014 | 8:44 p.m. CST; updated 4:26 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 18, 2014

COLUMBIA — Columbia Commission on Human Rights was named the top humans rights commission in the state for 2013 by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.

This is the second year the state commission has given the award and the first time Columbia has been recognized since its commission's establishment in 1974, Tom Bastian, director of communications for the Missouri Department of Labor, said.

Among other things, Columbia's Commission on Human Rights was recognized for:

  • Having a member of the commission on the Columbia Values Diversity Celebration committee.
  • Assisting MU with funds to bring television judge Glenda Hatchett to speak about racial equality.
  • Educating local businesses on gender neutral bathrooms by hosting a free training session and will host another on Feb. 5.
  • Holding a discussion on the human rights crisis in Tibet with Tibetan monk Champa Lhunpo.

Adam Kruse, the city commission's staff liaison, said it's nice to get recognition for all the hard work volunteers have been putting in for 40 years.

The commission plans to keep improving efforts in 2014 by hosting a fair housing symposium to raise awareness on housing issues, Kruse said.

The city commission is looking into make Columbia a "Welcoming City" through the Welcoming America program, which creates a more immigrant friendly atmosphere and encourages immigrants to integrate into the social fabric of their new community.

The commission also plans to improve Columbia's rating on the Municipality Index Score by the Human Rights Campaign that rates how LGBT-friendly the city is based on the community's activities promoting the elimination of  discrimination against the LGBT community. Last year Columbia was ranked third on the list for Missouri, behind St. Louis and Kansas City, which tied for first.

Columbia's commission was selected from a group of 10 candidates throughout Missouri, Bastian said.

Last year, the Springfield Mayor's Commission on Human Rights and Community Relations won, Bastian said.

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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