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Utah News

Emma Houston Named Chair Of Utah's Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission

Utah's Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission names Emma Houston as new chair
Anna Pocaro
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Emma Houston is now chair of Utah's MLK Human Rights Commission

Utah’s Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission has appointed a new chair to lead efforts toward racial equality. Emma Houston will begin her work as an advocate and community resource this fall.

Dr. Forrest Crawford, who speaks highly of Houston, served as the first chairmen of the group when it was established in 1991.

“Everybody currently on the commission, as well as many throughout our community, is really celebrating someone like Emma," he said. "Well respected, well known, very charismatic, very visionary. Part of what we try to do is to encourage and help folks to commemorate the fact that human rights is an important and core virtue of the state of Utah." 

Dr. Crawford says members of the commission act as allies and advocates for human rights. They do this by encouraging Utahns to celebrate MLK Day and hosting what they call King Conversations within the community.

“So King Conversations could be centered around any given topic that relates to diversity and inclusion and equitable treatment. How do we begin those conversations? Houston said. "Once we leave that conversation, what do we do internally to change, but outwardly to change as well?"

In 1961, King was a keynote speaker at the University of Utah when he was an emerging member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

“We did not anticipate that the very person we invited to speak to our students and community in the state of Utah in 1961 would emerge to be one of the most powerful and profound leaders of American society," Crawford said.

Utah’s unique connection to Dr. King has inspired the commission to uphold the values he taught.

“Ensure that voices are being heard, and that voices are being valued, and that we respect, and that we want to include as many people as possible," Houston said.

She will begin touring public schools in Utah with the commission to hold King Conversation workshops later this year.