What is UNITED?
UNITED is a human rights music video unlike any other. Its production included a 45,000-mile world tour covering four continents and 13 countries. Two thousand volunteers, including 150 actors, contributed their time to this global endeavor.
Director Taron Lexton was 19 years old when he created UNITED with a crew that consisted mostly of teenagers and pre-teens, making it truly a youth project.
The film depicts an inner-city kid with a heart for basketball (played by 11-year-old Andre Boydon) who is confronted by a gang of bullies and their leader (Eric Forte), and has to fight for his right to play. What makes UNITED a great human rights video is how Andre’s character accomplishes this, without violence.
The film includes cameo performances by Isaac Hayes (South Park), Erika Christensen (Traffic, Upside of Anger), Jenna Elfman (Dharma and Greg, Keeping the Faith), Catherine Bell (JAG) and Lynsey Bartilson (Grounded for Life.)
UNITED came about when, in early 2004, Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) asked Taron to create a new theme song and music video for YHRI. Taron and TXL Films produced it with the help of volunteers, groups and organizations in the community. It was first shown inside the United Nations headquarters in New York in August 2004. UNITED is now available with subtitles in 15 languages and has aired in countries around the globe.
Due to the explosive popularity of the music video, Youth for Human Rights International has since produced and distributed a special UNITED edition of What Are Human Rights? in 21 languages as a public service to children worldwide.
What is Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI)?
The purpose of YHRI (www.youthforhumanrights.org) is to teach youth around the globe about human rights, thus helping them to become valuable advocates for tolerance and peace. Headquartered in Los Angeles, YHRI has chapters and clubs around the world.
YHRI was founded in August 2001 by educator and school principal Mary Shuttleworth. Having spent 30 years working with children, Mary, decided to launch a campaign to teach youth about human rights.
YHRI began as an outreach project of the International Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance (www.humanrightsandtolerance.org), however due to its fast-paced global expansion, a separate non-profit, tax-exempt corporation was formed in early 2005.
What are Human Rights?
Every person is entitled to certain rights — simply by virtue of being human. These fundamental freedoms include the right to life and liberty, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and education. There are thirty basic rights as laid out in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are explained in easy-to-understand language in YHRI’s booklet, What Are Human Rights? More than a million What Are Human Rights? booklets in 19 languages have been distributed around the world.
About the Universal Declaration of Human RightsThe Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created by the United Nations to promote peace and prevent war. Today, the United Nations includes 191 members countries.
Headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a committee of prominent humanitarians crafted and advanced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the UN adopted in 1948.
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