CHRO Invited to White House Ceremony

This past Tuesday, June 28th, CHRO Executive Director Tanya Hughes and Deputy Director Cheryl Sharp attended a ceremony at the Eisenhower Complex and the White House to celebrate the life of the markedly influential public servant Azekah “Zeke” Jennings.  Mr. Jennings was a senior Conciliation Specialist at the US Dept. of Justice. He worked in cities around the country, including Ferguson and Baltimore, to help heal those communities.  Ms. Hughes and Ms. Sharp were invited to speak on behalf of the CHRO and present at the ceremony. The CHRO was the only state agency in the nation to join the top US Department of Justice Officials at the celebration of Mr. Jennings’ life and an awards ceremony recognizing the contributions of federal civil rights attorneys from around the nation.

To quote Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Mr. Jennings’ life work is a testament to that philosophy. Mr. Jennings, an UConn Law

Executive Director Tanya Hughes and Deputy Director Cheryl Sharp at the White House

graduate, worked closely with the CHRO during his time serving the Department of Justice in their Boston Regional office.  In reflection on Mr. Jennings’ accomplishments, Cheryl Sharp said, “Azekah had the courage of a lion and the grace of the gazelle… as he touched the lives of individuals all over the country.” Other speakers included the Acting Director of the US Department of Justice, Paul Monteiro and Deputy Director of the US Department of Justice, Gilbert Moore. The CHRO was afforded the opportunity to discuss the CT Kids Court Program which raises the social consciousness of youth regarding civil and human rights issues.  The CHRO is honored to have been given a national forum to celebrate the civil rights work being done in CT and to honor the life of a colleague who was committed to equality and justice.

At the second ceremony of the day, US Attorneys and a group of specialists from the Department of Justice discussed the work the CHRO was doing in the State of Connecticut.  Department of Justice Officials praised the CHRO’s commitment to fighting discrimination and for its national leadership in lending support and advocating for progressive programs protecting the rights of citizens.  Ms. Sharp said “We are thought of as leaders in the civil rights movement and we are having an impact not only on CT, but on the entire country. It was an honor for the CHRO to be recognized for its work.”  She went on to say “To be in a room of likeminded civil rights attorneys from all over the country and they [were] talking about CT…it was really empowering.” 

The work of the CHRO was described as helping direct a national conversation on discrimination and justice.   The CHRO was honored to be included in the ceremony and humbled by the recognition it received from national civil rights leaders.

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