Indian-American activist in Boulder, Colorado receives human rights award

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Nikhil Mankekar, 36, received the United Nations Association of Boulder, Colorado’s International Human Rights Award Dec. 10, during the celebration of UN Human Rights Day in that city. (Photo: Facebook Community Foundation of Boulder)

An Indian-American civil rights activist was awarded the United Nations Association of Boulder County’s Human Rights Award.

Nikhil Mankekar, co-chair of the Boulder County Human Relations Commission, received the award Dec. 10, the day celebrating the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights in 1948.

Mankekar, 36,  noted during the award ceremony that the declaration was signed after an historic period of mass genocide . . . which, tragically, continues to occur to this day, the Community Foundation Boulder County (CFBC) reported on Facebook, posting pictures of Mankekar who is a Fellow of the Foundation.

“Nikhil urged all of us to act locally through our personal interactions to overcome the conditions that lead to such horrible acts, making sure we treat everyone with dignity and respect,” the CFBC noted, adding that the award ceremony was held in the Boulder Public Library, which carried a sign saying, “We are Boulder together.”

“Congratulations, Nikhil, and thank you for your efforts to advance human rights (including in your role on the Boulder Chamber’s Community Affairs Council)!” the CFBC said.

According to the news outlet Dailycamera.com, the event was attended by several local politicians and others. Mankekar has been a local activist of many years standing, working for underserved and under-recognized communities including Native Americans and other minorities. He is of Sikh origin and has advocated for immigrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients; was instrumental in creating the Indigenous Peoples Day in Boulder; and combating the criminalization of homelessness, the Dailycamera said.

In his acceptance speech, Mankekar reportedly said he knew firsthand what it felt like to be marginalized in Boulder.

“The reason I’ve stayed and lived in Boulder, even despite discrimination that I’ve experienced, is to do what I’m doing now and to make it a better place for everyone,” he is quoted saying in the Daily Camera. “I’m just happy to be recognized for what I’ve been doing in the community around human rights,” the Indian-American activist added. “I’ve put a lot of myself into this, into human and civil rights issues.”

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