Guest Opinions

Marilyn Shuler had a vision for Idaho and a commitment to protect human rights for all

Statesman file photo of Marilyn Shuler
Statesman file photo of Marilyn Shuler

This Thursday, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., we dedicate the Marilyn Shuler Classroom for Human Rights within the footprint of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. The Classroom, as well as the entire Memorial, has been built by the community.

Individuals, businesses and foundations, in cooperation with the City of Boise, funded a public park to appreciate and celebrate human dignity and diversity. Dedicated to the public in 2002, the Memorial has provided a place for reflection, a place for hope, and a place for inspiration for the over 100,000 visitors annually.

The Classroom honors Marilyn Shuler’s commitment to human rights. In her words, “It’s in that thinking about human rights that we find the solutions and the courage we need to make Idaho a good place to live for every one of us.”

I think in many ways, Marilyn would not have approved of the dedication. She was about doing the work, not about the recognition.

Recalling Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct,” he asked that when someone, some day, delivered his eulogy, “Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize — that isn’t important ... I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”

The new Classroom does not just honor Marilyn Shuler, the person, but rather recognizes her efforts on behalf of children and the marginalized members of our community. Hers was a commitment to promote and protect human rights for all.

Frankly, Marilyn challenged me — a lot. As a founder of the Memorial and Wassmuth Center board member, she pushed us to do more. When a student was confronted with an act of bigotry or intolerance, she wanted us at the school. When hate would surface in an Idaho community, she wanted us there. For Marilyn Shuler, the Memorial is a place that calls us to action.

Marilyn had a vision for her state, but she understood that a vision, without taking action, would be just a dream. And she wanted more than that for us. She wanted Idaho, in both policy and practice, to live up to the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article #1 states, “We are all born free and equal in dignity and rights ... endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

That’s why we’re dedicating the Classroom to Marilyn Shuler — and reminding ourselves that her legacy, as well as our own, lies in our actions.

As MLK concluded, “Then my living will not be in vain.”

Dan Prinzing, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, builder and home of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.

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