Human Rights Symposium

 Symposium 2019 logo

March 20, 2019
7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Des Moines University

3200 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312



The Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission is proud to present the 33rd Annual Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Symposium. Last year, we set a new record, with over 700 attendees learning how to build equitable communities from the ground up. We hope to maintain this growth and community engagement with our 2019 theme, Move Passion to Progress. This theme highlights the goal of helping people move beyond emotions towards tangible, substantive, and sustainable community progress. 

Our objectives for this Symposium are framed around the belief that progress is not an overnight event. It is a multi-generational effort that requires ongoing preparation, support, and most importantly, teamwork. Move Passion to Progress aims to teach attendees how to prepare and participate in the long-distance relay race towards equity.

To achieve progress, communities must move with the proper toolkit and mindset. We have organized four (4) symposium tracks addressing progress on issues related to: Economic Progress, Judicial Progress, Social Progress, and Political Progress. But these aren't the only areas that require progress: in order for progress to be sustainable, we must prepare the future generations to take lead. For this reason, we have partnered with Des Moines Public Schools' C.O.R.E for Advancement (Community of Racial Equity) to present the Future Progress track, for-youth-by-youth sessions that explore the current ways the youth are leading the charge to a better future.

We also believe that it is important to assess where our passions begin as the starting line to the changes we aim to make. But what does it mean to move your passion into progress? Our keynote speaker, Richard Edmond-Vargas, aka Richie Reseda, exemplifies how to harness a passion and overcome barriers to create a movement for justice from the most unlikely place: behind bars. The topic of CNN's documentary, The Feminist on Cellblock Y, Richie works to encourage community members, especially those directly impacted by incarceration, to get involved in grassroots legislative efforts aimed at ending punitive justice systems and investing in people, communities, and restorative means of reducing harm.

DART logo. Ride DART free to the symposium! plan yur trip at ridedart.comRide DART to the Symposium: DART is offering free transportation from anywhere in the city to the Symposium location. Simply show your symposium ticket to the driver upon boarding, and enjoy your ride to the Symposium. Plan your trip at


For more information, including session topics, speakers, agenda, and more, explore the tabs at the top.

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