Tuesday, May 27, 2014

7 Questions with Doug Shipman, CEO for The National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Doug Shipman, Chief Executive Officer for The National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Doug Shipman  has an extensive educational background in issues of race, ethnicity and gender including undergraduate and graduate studies in topics including the relationship between economics and poverty, the history of American minority groups and religion as applied in social movements including the American Civil Rights movement, the Indian independence movement and the Buddhist environmental movement in Southeast Asia.

He has also served as a facilitator for discussion groups exploring racial understanding in Richmond, VA and Cambridge, MA. Doug has an MPP (Master of Public Policy) from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with an emphasis on domestic politics; an MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from the Harvard Divinity School with an emphasis on religion in public situations and politics and a bachelor’s degree with High Honors from Emory University with majors in Economics and Political Science. In 2010, Doug was named one of the New Leaders Council's "40 under 40" in the area of political entrepreneurship.

How did you get hooked on history?
My Mom was a big history buff who loved to give me historical biography books as a young boy.  I loved the stories of faraway places and the people who changed the world.  As I went to college and beyond I continued to formally study history with a focus on religion and social movements throughout time.

What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?
History has become a way for me to connect with people and places.  I’ve often traveled to places because of their historical significance to “see it for myself”.  Some of those places have included exploring ancient Buddhist caves in India, ruins of great temples in Turkey, synagogues turned into mosques in Spain, swimming in the Sea of Galilee in Israel and climbing over the ruins of palaces in Thailand and Indonesia.  History has given my imagination a lens to view the world as we find it today and see what it was long ago.

How has history been a part of your professional life?
My interest in American Civil Rights stories led me to a broader interest in human rights and global movements.  These stories and histories are the basis of the building of the new National Center for Civil and Human Rights here in Atlanta.  I’ve tried to combine a knowledge of history with good story telling to illustrate how history can be relevant in both understanding current human rights issues and inspiring current individuals to take up the cause of human rights.

Why is history important?
History grounds each of us in something deeper than today.  History gives us a way to see patterns and explore why the world looks as it does and why people believe what they do in the present.  I have always found myself more confident and more excited in moving forward by understanding the context that can only be gathered through the understanding of the historical precedents of a person, group or place.

What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?
I can’t pick just one period—so many periods offer so much insight.  The foundational years of any of the world’s great religions are amazing periods, as is the height of the ancient Greek and Roman empires which continue to inspire so much literature and film.  World War I and II provide great wisdom as to why the world works as it does today and highlights the impact of so many individuals on the course of modern history.  And of course, the 1950s-1960s in America during the “Civil Rights Years” is full of inspiration and tragedy as so many worked for greater American freedom.

Why is it important for people to understand history?
Understanding “our” history, whatever may be included in “our” gives individuals and groups a chance to see how they fit into the greater course of history.  This understanding can also illuminate the forgotten meanings of words, phrases and names which can often uncover forgotten wisdom.

How will National Civil and Human Rights Center help people better understand history?
The Center will bring the stories of civil and human rights movements to the broad public—many of whom have not lived through a rights struggle and may only know by name the stories of the great defenders of freedom in American and internationally.  The Center will also host programs, seminars, events, films and educational programs that will allow individuals and groups the ability to deeply understand specific historical situations or issues in hopes of inspiring them to work for rights today.

Join the Movement to build the Center today—put your name on a tile in our lobby!


Doug Shipman
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
404 991 6974
55 Ivan Allen Blvd., Suite 510
Atlanta, GA 30308

Visit our website: www.civilandhumanrights.org

Follow on Twitter:  @DougShip @Rightsctr

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