Human Rights Center to mark 40th anniversary with acclaimed Latina activist

October 23, 2023
By: Deborah Alvarez O'Neil

Chilean-American human rights activist, scholar and poet Marjorie Agosin will be the featured speaker at the40th anniversary celebration of Worcester State’s Dennis Brutus/Merrill Goldwyn Center for the Study of Human Rights on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Marjorie Agosin

Agosin’s lecture will explore the connections between human rights and literature and highlight memories of the center’s namesakes Dennis Brutus and Merrill Goldwyn. Brutus (Nov. 28, 1924- Dec. 26, 2009) was a poet and South African anti-apartheid activistwho was shot by South African authorities and imprisoned on the notorious Robben Island next to Nelson Mandela. In 1982, he delivered the inaugural address for the newly created Center for the Study of Human Rights and the university awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Brutus later gifted to the Worcester State an extensive collection of his papers and letters, now preserved as the Dennis Brutus Collection.

The late Worcester State English professor Merrill Goldwyn founded the center with the late Worcester resident Reverend Paul Ferrin, who served as a chaplain at the university. Over the years, the center has hosted numerous luminaries including Shirley Chisholm, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Eli Wiesel, Ariel Dacal Diaz, and Cynthia Enloe.

Dennis Brutus during a visit to Worcester State University.

Along with Agosin’s keynote, the anniversary event, from 12:30-2:30 in Sheehan Room 109, will include several presentations and a tour of the Human Rights Center exhibit in the Learning Resource Center. Worcester State archivist Ross Griffiths will give a presentation on the Center’s archives and the Dennis Brutus Collection. Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Hank Theriault, a renowned expert on genocide, reparations and mass violence, will speak on the history and establishment of the center. History professor Aldo Guervara will talk about the center’s programming and activism, and history professor Alison Okuda will present the center’s goals and future programming. The event is free and open to the public.


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