October 5, 2022

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Human Rights Commission honors Mo Young

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Mo Young was honored by Eugene's Human Rights Commission with its 2021 International Human Rights Day Award.

Mo Young was honored by Eugene's Human Rights Commission with its 2021 International Human Rights Day Award.

The Human Rights Commission honored Mo Young with its International Human Rights Day Award. HRC Chair Ibrahim Coulibaly.

[00:00:07] Ibraham Coulibaly: My name is Ibrahim Coulibaly. I’m the current chair of Human Rights Commission. We would like to present our new annual International Human Rights Day award. And I will invite my vice-chair, Daniel Borson, to present the award.

[00:00:25] Daniel Borson: Thank you so much, Ibrahim. The recipient of the 2021 International Human Rights Day Award is Marieke or “Mo” Young who was nominated by former HRC member Serena Markstrom.

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[00:00:39] Ms. Young is the Community Partnership Supervisor for Lane County Government. In addition to her role with the county, Ms. Young spends much of her free time advocating for people to be vaccinated, promoting local events, and spearheading fundraising and advocacy projects in her community.

[00:00:55] Ms. Young served on the HRC for seven years and served as both vice chair and chair during her terms on the commission. She served as a staff member at Community Alliance of Lane County in 2003 and helped build the Back-to-Back Allies for Human Dignity program from the ground up, which resulted in the creation of a program that serves the entire county and focuses on increasing safety and respect in the community, specifically around anti-Semitism, heterosexism, and racism.

[00:01:26] Ms. Young was one of the facilitators on last year’s Ad Hoc Committee on Police Policy, using her skills and passion to coordinate efforts among 30 committee members from diverse groups. Her tireless efforts committed contributed to an excellent report on a challenging issue.

[00:01:42] One of her recent big projects was raising money to buy Lyllye Parker a house. Parker is a long time Eugene resident who has helped countless students of color at the University of Oregon and has been a pillar in the Black community. She had never been able to afford a house and when Mo found out that she wished she could, she started working with a team to fundraise. Ms. Parker now has her home.

[00:02:05] The Human Rights Commission congratulates Ms. Young on the award and is truly grateful for her contributions to human rights in Eugene. And now I’d like to present to you Mo Young. Welcome, Mo.,

[00:02:18] Mo Young: Thank you, Daniel. I usually write notes of what to say, and I didn’t do that today, so I’m just going to go off the cuff.

[00:02:29] Thank you. I can see some of you clapping. I appreciate it. You listed a whole lot of things that I do and have done, and I just want to shed light on the project that you mentioned at the end about Miss Lyllye’s home, because it ties together so many of those things.

[00:02:53] I was talking with Ms. Lyllye back in, I want to say, February of 2021 when we were doing a campaign with Public Health to help elders in our communities of color get the COVID vaccine, because we don’t live as long. And so when the people that were first able to get the vaccine were 80 or 85, our elders were not all that old and yet they were at really high risk.

[00:03:16] And so we ended up doing a campaign to help mitigate some of that, and Miss Lyllye was one of the people that we worked with. And I, just as I was walking her back to her house from doing the filming outside because— pandemic and needing to be outdoors—we just started talking about home ownership being a dream of hers. And about how she didn’t think it was a dream that she could realize, and that she needed to move and she would find an apartment and she would be okay with that.

[00:03:44] And I just thought: There’s something not right, there’s something not right when someone who gives so much of themselves for their whole life have a dream that really, we should all be able to access if we so desire and can’t.

[00:03:57] And what I wanted to highlight in this story is, this was a magical thing of the community coming together and across the nation, even to make to make donations and to help Ms. Lyllye’s dream come true. And it’s really, it’s a singular solution to a really systemic problem. So we did this thing because the system is so broken that Miss Lyllye couldn’t do it on her own. And I love that your theme tonight is about poverty and about houselessness, because I think it really sheds light on, we need to have homes that are fuller affordable for folks to rent, for folks to purchase.

[00:04:33] We need people to be able to work full time and to realize that dream, whatever the dream is, but certainly to be able to have a roof over their head. And so I love, I am so grateful that for this award and for this acknowledgement, and I also want to just reflect back to you all that you’re doing the work to fix the system so that we hear less stories of community coming together and helping folks buy a house, because people are just more able to buy a house. So, thank you.

[00:05:02] Daniel Borson: Thank you so much, Mo.

[00:05:06] John Q: The Human Rights Commission presents its 2021 International Human Rights Day Award to Mo Young.

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