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“Freedom Fighters: The Kennedys and the Struggle for Civil Rights” comes to Florence

The exhibition opened yesterday in Florence and will run until May 15th

(Florence, Italy | April 9, 2014) “Freedom Fighters:  The Kennedys and the Struggle for Civil Rights” opened yesterday at the RFK International House and will be displayed through May 15th. The opening was held at the Robert F. Kennedy Center Europe’s headquarters (Via Ghibellina 12/A). Guests included Marialina Marcucci, President of RFK Center Europe; Sarah C. Morrison, Consul General of the United States of America in Florence; and Cristina Giachi, Councillor of the University, Research, Youth, Tourism, European Funds and Equal Opportunities, City of Florence.

The exhibition was curated by Fondazione Forma and Contrasto and organized by the RFK Center Europe and the United States Embassy to Italy. It presents eighty iconic images that transport viewers into the 1950s and 1960s, the era of the civil rights movement in the United States. The story of the long struggle for civil rights in the United States, including the key roles played by President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, is portrayed in eighty historical black and white photographs.

The exhibition is divided into two sections. The first section presents a chronology of the events that marked the battle for civil rights. It analyzes the different stages of the battle through documents, texts, and pictures. The timeline begins in 1776 when the Committee of Five presents the Declaration of Independence and concludes in 1964 when Martin Luther King, Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

The second section focuses on iconic moments in the history of the civil rights movement. From snapshots of everyday life that emphasize racial segregation in the 1950s by Elliott Erwin and Eve Arnold, to images of the Birmingham Riot of 1963 and the Freedom Rides. Also portrayed is the political life of the Kennedy brothers, including public appearances and meetings with civil rights leaders. The exhibition concludes with photographs by Bruce Davidson and Danny Lyon of the March of Washington and the return of Martin Luther King, Jr. to the United States after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Giorgio Napolitano expressed his appreciation for the project through a letter for Marialina Marcucci, President of the RFK Center Europe. “This exhibition spurs us to think about the topical value of stances they took to achieve a fairer, more inclusive, and sympathetic society, but also about the condition of all those people around the globe whose rights are trampled.  We are all called to create change.”

“We are very proud of this exhibit and hope it will inspire visitors to consider the values of equality and freedom that these great men fought for,” said Federico Moro, executive director of RFK Europe. “Their legacy marks the path along which we move forward today, as the defense of human rights must be affirmed each and every day. The Kennedy brothers were committed to the defense of freedom and human rights and made decisive contributions to the defeat of racial segregation in United States. Our organization is dedicated to achieving Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world.”

“The efforts and commitment of the Kennedys are an example of great passion and political service,” said Sarah Craddock Morrison, Consul General of the United States of America in Florence. “The pictures displayed are a testimony of moments that changed history. Florence is known for its immense beauty and its commitment for human rights, and it is extremely significant to display Freedom Fighters here. I encourage everybody to visit this exhibition.”


Monday- Saturday 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM and 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM.

Sunday 9:30 - 1:30 PM

Free Admission.

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Aminatou Haidar Speaks of Ongoing Human Rights Violations against the Sahrawi

VIDEO: RFK Human Rights Defender Aminatou Haidar presented at the U.S. Congress, as part of the Abd El-Kader Lecture organized by the Defense Freedom Foundation, on the ongoing human rights violations against the Sahrawi in Western Sahara for the past four decades. These include violations since MINURSO was renewed at the UN Security Council on April 26, 2013, with no human rights monitoring mechanism.

Il Senato italiano chiede il monitoraggio dei diritti umani nel Sahara Occidentale


(April 4, 2014) Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Santiago A. Canton, Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights, applaud the Italian Senate’s approved motion urging the Italian government to support a human rights monitoring component in the renewal of the United Nations Security Council’s peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara. The mission, known as MINURSO, is up for renewal at the UN Security Council on April 30.

“I have personally met hundreds of men, women, and children in Western Sahara who experienced torture, arbitrary detainment, disappearances, and other human rights violations,” said Ms. Kennedy. “This abuse has dragged on unabated for nearly forty years and I commend the Italian Senate for demanding that Italy voice its support for Sahrawi human rights."

The Italian Senate cited the RFK Center and fellow human rights organization for reporting on ongoing violations of international law in the region, and urged that human rights observers, members of the media, and humanitarian organizations should be able to freely obtain access to Western Sahara. The motion also calls for Moroccan authorities to guarantee fair trials to all Sahrawi prisoners with respect to their fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, of association, and of peaceful assembly, as well liberty of movement as per Article 12 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights in the United Nations.

“The Italian Senate has taken a momentous and admirable step to ensure that violations against the Sahrawi people do not continue to go unreported and unseen, behind a veil of legitimacy,” said Mr. Canton. “The member nations of the UN Security Council should follow suit in offering the simple solution of a human rights mechanism in the region, a component that has been part of every UN mission enacted since 1991.”

The motion expressed particular concern over the harsh military court sentences handed down on February 17, 2013, against 25 Sahrawi civilians without due process. The RFK Center recently called for a full investigation into the alleged torture of these prisoners and questioned Morocco's use of military courts in trying civilians. The accused—nine of whom received life sentences—told their families they were forced to endorse police statement while under duress and endured torture and other forms of ill-treatment.  The RFK Center witnessed and reported on widespread violations of international laws governing freedom of expression and peaceful assembly during its delegation to Western Sahara in August 2012.


The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights (RFK Center) was founded in 1968 by Robert Kennedy's family and friends as a living memorial to carry forward his vision of a more just and peaceful world. RFK Partners for Human Rights engages in strategic long-term partnerships with RFK Human Rights Award Laureates, augmenting the effectiveness of grassroots leaders to support sustainable social justice movements.


Meaghan Baron
Director of Communications, RFK Center
(917) 284-6352 | Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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