Human Rights

Waterloo Commission on Human Rights invites the community to participate in a reading and discussion of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson. Beginning April 17, 2018 participants will gather to discuss the subject matter. Discussions will run from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Dates and locations as follows:

• April 17 – Waterloo Center for the Arts, Visual Arts Studio
• May 1 – Waterloo Center for the Arts, Visual Arts Studio
• May 15 – Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa
• May 29 – Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa
• June 12 –Waterloo Center for the Arts, Visual Arts Studio

The community book discussion is part of the MLK 2018 Year of Service, honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For more information contact Abraham Funchess, Director, Waterloo Commission on Human Rights by calling (319) 291-4441 or email to .

2018 will be an extraordinary year of human and civil rights programming honoring the
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King:
"Fifty Years Since King: Chaos or Community?"

Waterloo Human Rights Commission is working in collaboration with several agencies and organizations  this year to help us explore together how far we have come since the assassination of one of America's greatest heroes.

2018 Civil & Human Rights March
March 25 (Palm Sunday)
2:00 PM, Lincoln Park
Ending at Waterloo Center for the Arts
Come let your voice count as you engage in participatory democracy
around issues of gun control, voting rights, immigration reform
(DACA), womenʼs rights, and more.

KING: A Filmed Record…From Montgomery to Memphis

5:30 PM, February 15, 22 and March 1
Jubilee UMC Resource Center
This is an extraordinary film on King and his intellectual contributions to the Civil Rights movement, 1955-1968.

Free KINGʼs Youth Breakfast (For youth and family)
9:00 – 11:00 AM, Saturday, February 24
Jubilee UMC Resource Center
We invite youth and family to enjoy this free breakfast while learning more about Dr. King.

Silent Protest Meetings at Waterloo Post Office
Noon – 12:30 PM, Saturdays: 2/24, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17
These protests are in solidarity with Parkland students, teachers and families for responsible gun control.

Wade in the Water Program
6:00 PM, Sunday, February 25
Antioch Baptist Church
Come enjoy this decades-old Afro-American program which celebrates black achievement, excellence and healthy self-love.

“The Mountaintop” Play
Tuesday, April 3
7:00 PM, Waterloo Center for the Arts
(Hope Martin Theatre)
This is a fictional play of two characters that reimagines Dr. Kingʼs last night at the Lorraine Motel before his assassination.

Iowa Civil Rights and Human Rights
Awards Program and Tour
Wednesday, April 4
10:00 AM, Waterloo Center for the Arts
We will honor a few civil and human rights champions around the region and then engage participants with a tour of properties of historical and civil rights significance.

First 2018 Community Wide Book Read on KING
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Edited by Clayborne Carson
Tuesday, April 17 – Five Sessions (Ending June 12)
Time and Place: TBD
Join us for five sessions between April 17 and June 12 as we discuss “The Autobiography” and the “intellectual underpinnings of Kingʼs courage.”

Waterloo Commission on Human Rights - Winner of the 2016 YWCA Women of Persimmon Organization Award

Promoting Women’s Rights and Empowering Women

It is our pleasure to provide you with insight into the city's efforts to address alleged discrimination issues facing our community. On our website, you will find a number of proven programs, activities, and practical applications that have worked to increase the awareness of Waterloo citizens. Many efforts have been made to recognize our emerging diversity as a positive community asset. Please feel free to call us with any suggestions, questions, or ideas that could help improve the quality of life for all Waterloo citizens.

Please visit the Do You Know Your Rights? website to learn more about your civil rights.

WCHR Success Points
Success Points for Waterloo Commission on Human Rights (WCHR), Funchess’ Administration, 2010-present

  • As of August 2013, our application for direct relationship with EEOC had been approved! This signature development will allow WCHR the opportunity to do more on behalf of our constituency, via increased staffing and more education outreach;
  • Thanks to internal process changes, logistical moves, additional team support, and renewed team spirit, we are now eliminating our Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) backlog; in fact, we have significantly reduced our backlog while maintaining high standards of care and justice for our complainants;
  • WCHR now realizes an increase in the funding associated with charge resolutions as a result of the new direct relationship with EEOC. [We have documented improvements along the way; e.g., WCHR was able to submit an EEOC invoice for over 60 cases this past fiscal year (2011/2012)—a 178% increase over last year’s submission (and for that matter, over the last decade);
  • We had received additional HUD grant partnership funding $66,000 [FY2013], $120,000 [FY2014] , which allows for improved education outreach and staffing to affirmatively furthering fair housing education in Waterloo, in conjunction with Iowa Civil Rights Commission;
  • We have recovered over half a million dollars in economic relief for our complainants over the last several months [as of early 2012]—this is at least a 5000% increase over the last decade leading up to June 2010. This increase is indicative of more robust communications between WCHR and community entities that are concerned about creating a culture of diversity inclusion in our city;
  • We continue to engage in meaningful education outreach discussions and activity, like participation in forums which focus on improved education delivery; criminal justice reform to improve the life chances of those with criminal record; as well as sexual and domestic violence reform. In fact, the Commission championed on February 10, 2014, the passing of Article B. Housing Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence, of Chapter 3, Human Rights, Title 5, Police Regulations. We engage in these type of policy changes and community discussions while ensuring that our primary WCHR tasks—complaint processing, charge resolutions—remain on target;
  • We developed and implemented for the first time in WCHR history the Human Rights Training Academy. It debuted July 2012 and was attended by 25 persons. The Training Academy accents the positive developments occurring in the community while educating the participant about WCHR’s history, structure, staffing levels, budget, enforcement work, etc.;
  • We continue to work with various community partners to advance the community’s Building Healthy Community Initiative, which involves organizing community stakeholders and neighborhood coalition members to work toward the elimination of fear and violence in community.
  • In 2017, recovered nearly 1 million dollars in economic relief for Waterloo citizens since 2010 who filed EEOC and Housing complaints;

  • Engaged 500-700 city employees in Diversity-Inclusion conversations – including conversations dealing with generational differences;

  • Employed community forums, city website, Facebook and radio among other mediums to educate community on human rights issues like voter suppression, immigration reform, race, and sexual harassment;

  • Partnered with Waterloo public school system to help mentor vulnerable members of our community;

  • Collaborating and partnering with several organizations in community to sponsor the 2018 Human Rights Corridor of Activity,  a year -long celebration of King using the theme “Fifty Years Since King:  Chaos or Community?”

To Be Free At Last

A Human Rights Movement to end mass incarceration in the United States

We are asking all of community to join us in building a bold new movement to dismantle our nation's latest system of racial and social control and replace it with a broad-based commitment to basic human rights, compassion, and justice for all.

Join us, as we inspire a great awakening, bringing together and supporting all those who are committed to movement building, not just tinkering with the system as is. Join us, as we build a bold, courageous movement that will end not just mass incarceration, but forge a new moral consensus about how we, as a nation, ought to respond to poor people of color in the United States and embrace all of humanity.

“Bearing Witness Report: A Nation In Chains”

Contact Information
Waterloo Human Rights Commission
620 Mulberry Street
Waterloo, IA 50703
Phone:(319) 291-4441
Fax: (319) 291-4295
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm