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St. Luke’s partners with Wassmuth Center to support new Center for Human Rights

Rendering provided by Wassmuth Center. 
By Daniel Mediate, News and Community
December 1, 2021

The only memorial dedicated to Anne Frank and human rights in the United States has blossomed into an iconic location for diversity and inclusivity in Boise since its unveiling two decades ago.

Located near the downtown Boise Library, the memorial is also one of the few places in the country that has the full text of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights on display. The memorial expanded a few years ago, adding an outdoor classroom.

The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights — the organization that manages the memorial — on the other hand, is housed in a small office near the memorial and has struggled to meet increased demands for related trainings and programming due to space constraints.

That is expected to change in late 2022 when the new Center for Human Rights is constructed next to the memorial, along 8th Street. And St. Luke’s is excited to aid in its creation.

“The memorial has always had a strong physical presence; the Wassmuth Center has not,” said Dan Prinzing, the Wassmuth Center’s executive director. “Now, we will have a coexisting presence — we are the memorial. It is us.

“To have a building — a one-of-a-kind education center — being built within the footprint of a one-of-a-kind human rights memorial, there’s no parallel anywhere in the U.S.”

St. Luke’s is underwriting the pathway that will connect the new building to the memorial. The pathway will be adjacent to a water feature designed to celebrate Idaho’s indigenous tribes and acknowledge the land on which the center is built.

“The pathway really begins to set the stage that ‘I’m moving into an education center now,’” Prinzing said. “For St. Luke’s to step into that, that is the recognition in the power of education, wanting to be part of that journey that takes people from one space to the next.”

The two-story center will include a permanent exhibit, research library and community classroom equipped for in-person and hybrid presentations and professional development.

“The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights works to promote respect for human dignity and diversity through education and toward individual responsibility for justice and peace, and I can’t think of a better partner for us to be aligned with when it comes to those aims,” St. Luke’s President and CEO Chris Roth said.

“We are committed to caring for all – that is respect for human worth and value – and where we can help partners such as the Wassmuth Center work upstream, we’re glad to do so.”

Portraits of national and local community members who have championed human rights will adorn the building’s interior, along with a 7-foot-tall mosaic made by a refugee who came to Boise that “captures the power of education to push away the darkness,” Prinzing said.

“We have a goal with the memorial: I want anybody who comes here to find himself, herself or themselves here — that anybody that comes, be it in the art or programming, they are going to find themselves there,” Prinzing said. “There is a part of their story there.”

Prinzing became involved with the center in the 1990s as a schoolteacher when a traveling Anne Frank memorial visited Boise. He joined Idaho’s Department of Education in 2000, leading joint efforts between the state and the Wassmuth Center before taking over as executive director a few years later.

According to Prinzing, the new building is a culmination of years of advocacy and a signal to a more inclusive future.

“What the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights is really indicative of is that our work is not done,” he said. “Over time, the work has become more important and more critical, not only in the state of Idaho but nationwide and even internationally.”

About The Author

Daniel Mediate works in the St. Luke’s Community Engagement department.