TCRP Honors Rwandan Hero

Subject of 'Hotel Rwanda' comes to Texas

Paul Rusesabagina is not the only champion of human rights receiving an award at the Texas Civil Rights Project's 15th annual Bill of Rights Dinner on Sunday, Oct. 23, but he is likely the best known. Rusesabagina, whose real life heroism during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda was depicted in the film Hotel Rwanda, will be the keynote speaker at the fundraising event to be held in the Texas Union Ballroom starting at 6pm. He'll be introduced by Terry George, writer and director of the Oscar-nominated film, and will receive the Michael Tigar Human Rights Center Award. Others receiving awards include Renato Ramírez, philanthropist and CEO of the International Bank of Commerce in Zapata, and Sarah B. Buel, co-founder of the UT Voices Against Violence program.

Protecting the Bill of Rights – and all our civil rights – is an uphill battle in Texas. And for the last 15 years, Jim Harrington and the folks at the Texas Civil Rights Project have been ensuring that the government or private interests don't ride roughshod over people's constitutionally protected rights – or taking them to court if they do. The project mostly works through litigation – initiating or supporting lawsuits brought by people harmed by government actions or private discrimination (e.g., lack of access for the disabled). Its recent work includes assisting farm workers to organize, forcing county jails to provide medication for HIV-positive inmates, and, of course, the work for which they are perhaps most well known: suing police departments for brutality. Harrington says TCRP works to "support other groups in their litigation efforts because it gives them the power" to succeed on their own.

Rusesabagina was chosen as the keynote speaker because of his heroic actions that saved the lives of more than 1,200 Hutu by allowing them to stay – and ensuring that they stayed safe – in the Hotel Mille Collines, an elegant hotel he managed in Kigali, the Rwandan capital city. He may seem an unusual choice for a human rights award in Texas, but Harrington points out that because it's the 15th anniversary of the Bill of Rights dinner, they wanted to get somebody "with strong human rights credentials" – and it is hard to argue that Rusesabagina doesn't fit that description, to a Texas T.


Texas Civil Right Project 15th annual Bill of Rights Dinner

featuring Paul Rusesabagina, real-life hero of Hotel Rwanda

Musical entertainment by Jimmy LaFave

Sunday, Oct. 23, UT Union Ballroom

Cocktail reception 6pm; Dinner program 7pm

Tickets: $100

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