National teachers group honors N. Idaho human rights activist
The nation’s largest organization of educators will honor Coeur d’Alene human rights activist Tony Stewart on Friday in New Orleans at the annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner.
The National Education Association will present Stewart with the H. Councill Trenholm Memorial Award, which is given to an individual who makes a significant impact on education as a profession and who promotes understanding among racial and ethnic groups, an NEA news release said.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel called Stewart “a shining example of how passion and commitment to human rights can transform a community.”
Stewart helped found the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations in 1981 when the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist organization, became active in Kootenai County.
For 30 years, Stewart has helped lead the community’s fight against racism by providing support to victims, countering hate propaganda and activities, and pursuing legal action when laws are broken. Stewart served as a jury consultant on the landmark 2000 lawsuit that bankrupted the Aryan Nations with a $6.3 million verdict.
Stewart produced a 90-minute documentary chronicling the first 10 years of the task force as an aid to other communities and organizations facing similar issues, the release said.
Stewart, who is retired from a 38-year career teaching political science at North Idaho College, continues to serve as co-chairman of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. human rights celebration for fifth-graders in Kootenai County.
The NEA Human and Civil Rights Award program honors people and organizations that promote peace and advance social and economic justice.