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HRRC recognizes 'Seeds of Change' organizers with Tom Oye

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.
HRRC recognizes 'Seeds of Change' organizers with Tom Oye

The Human Rights & Relations Commission recently honored organizers of the summer “Seeds of Change” art installation at 50th & France with the 2020 Tom Oye Human Rights Award for championing human rights in the community.

Members of the Black Student Union and community artists created artwork with messages of inclusion and racial justice that were placed in the flowerpots along West 50th Street in downtown Edina in July and August. The “Seeds of Change” public art installation brought awareness to the issue and brought the community together for healing. For their efforts, former Black Student Union President Rachel Adegbenro, community organizer Rebecca Sorenson and the Black Student Union were presented the Tom Oye Human Rights Award at the Dec. 1 City Council meeting.

“The HRRC was so impressed with how Rachel, Rebecca and the Edina High School Black Student Union brought so many members of the community together to present Seeds of Change,” said HRRC Chair Cat Beringer. “The art exhibit was a space for healing and reflection and many were sad to see it go when the summer was over.”

The award was established in 2006 in recognition of the late Tom Oye who was an early member of the HRRC and served on it for more than 30 years. Oye was also a Nisei soldier in World War II, a second-generation Japanese American who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In 2003, Oye received the Prize for Humanity by the Immortal Chaplains Foundation.

Nominees were evaluated based on their efforts to foster respect and dignity for others, model courage and/or compassion in the advancement of human rights, and demonstrate leadership by example for improving human relations or advancing human rights.