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Marilyn Shuler Initiative Teaches Strategies For Change In Idaho

Matt Guilhem
Boise State Public Radio
Members of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations include Tony Stewart, a founder of the task force and the current secretary; Christie Wood, the current president, and Norm Gissel, a founder, board member and lawyer.

As part of its inaugural Human Rights Week, the new Marilyn Shuler Human Rights Initiative will teach how to mobilize a community against racism and social injustice.

Tony Stewart and Norm Gissel are two members of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. Jill Gill, Director of the new Marilyn Shuler Human Rights Initiative at BSU, says the pair battled the Aryan Nations in North Idaho from the late 1970’s to 2000.

“And pioneered some award-winning, grass roots strategies to fight racism and hate, to advocate for social justice, to mobilize the community,” Gill says.

She says they had to figure out concrete ways to fight the Aryan Nations.

That includes writing press releases, mobilizing the faith and business community, and passing legislation.

“These guys know Idaho; they’ve done it for 30 years. And they know how to do it effectively. They know how to bring people together and get stuff done that is practical and useful and important for our state,” says Gill.

This is part of the kickoff event for the Marilyn Shuler initiative. Shuler directed the Idaho Human Rights Commission for 20 years and also fought the Aryan Nations. She passed away in February. Boise State created an initiative in her name to teach about human rights, to bring people together and to teach smart advocacy.

Stewart and Gissel will share their strategies for organizing with both students and the community Thursday at the Student Union Building on Boise State's campus.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio

As Senior Producer of our live daily talk show Idaho Matters, I’m able to indulge my love of storytelling and share all kinds of information (I was probably a Town Crier in a past life!). My career has allowed me to learn something new everyday and to share that knowledge with all my friends on the radio.