Photo Credit: Oklahoma Activist
“Violence is not a natural mode for people. We can love.
To have love and compassion in your life makes you a more
whole and complete person. It also makes the world a more beautiful place.
“We have to respect one another.”
–Sara Zaynab Bana
(“Local groups hope to end violence by educating teens“
in the Oklahoma Gazette – June 15, 2016)
Sara Bana was born on September 10, 1985, in Tehran, Iran. She is a child survivor of the war (Iran-Iraq War, 1980 – 1988) and immigrated to the United States in 1996. She has been politically active since her senior year of high school in 2004.
|Sara Bana and other members of the E.V.E. Coalition
met with OKC Police Chief Bill Citty to discuss the
use of body cameras by Oklahoma City police officers.
In her senior year of high school, she became aware of the apathy that exists among young Americans regarding their Democracy and Government. As part of her Senior Project, she wrote a research paper regarding the state of democracy in America. She submitted her paper encouraging young Americans to invest and engage in our Democracy. She planned, organized, and implemented a political forum for high school students who were soon to be voters.
Different high schools transported their Junior and Senior students to the forum. The Oklahoma state chairs of the Democratic, Libertarian, and Republican parties were participants in the educational forum that was moderated by Sara and two other high school students. After the forum, knowing it would be a while before she would have the right to vote as an American citizen, she continued to work on political campaigns from different parties.
Sara spent her college years studying liberal arts with a focus on philosophy and political science. Throughout her college years and since then, she has focused her efforts on helping local and national organizations work toward peace, education, liberty, fundraising, plans of action, mobilization, management, and outreach.
In 2011, her work as a community organizer turned into a not-for-profit agency: Civic Services Community Advocacy (CSCA). CSCA is a non-partisan public advocacy agency committed to creating access to equality and justice for all. The agency handles varied case management activities; organizes community projects / initiatives; advocates on behalf of our clients / public, and educates and mobilizes the general public towards democratic means to achieve positive progress. When it is in the best interests of the general public which we serve, we collaborate with government agencies, community leaders, attorneys, law makers, local business community organizations, and other entities. At CSCA the focus is on different needs of the individuals that we serve on varying levels so that our clients are equipped with the different tools necessary for success. The different communities that we serve include: LGBT community; individuals with disabilities, including those struggling with addiction; the homeless; ex-convicts, including sex offenders; immigrants; women and children; and those on the run from violence; and minorities.
In 2013, at a collaborative meeting of activists regarding the homicide of Maria Gonzales, a case managed by CSCA, the Ending Violence Everywhere (E.V.E.) coalition was founded. Since then, Ms. Bana has had the honor and privilege of serving as an active co-founder of the E.V.E. coalition in partnership with Dr. Dwain Pellebon and Milton Combs. E.V.E. is a citizen coalition demanding change in the culture of violence by promoting education, violence prevention, treatment, and intervention. E.V.E. also focuses on conflict resolution and enhancing trust between law enforcement and the community.
Sara Bana has contributed her time and energy to many organizations that work on issues related to human rights, including: MLK Prayer Breakfast Committee; OK Close Up Steering Committee; E.V.E. Coalition; NAACP; PACT Coalition (vice chair); Civic Service Community Advocacy; Amnesty International; Midwest City Council Task Force on Alternatives to Crime, Punishment and Rehabilitation; Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (Executive Board Member); Think Twice OK (Campaign Manager); Project Red Bird.
The public is invited to attend the presentation of the 2016 Human Rights Awards on Saturday, December 10th, in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The program will begin at 10am. It will be emcee’d by former State Representative Seneca Scott. There is no charge to attend. Following the awards program, you are invited to enjoy a Free Speech Forum in the Senate Assembly Room from 12 Noon to 2pm.
Every year, the Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored by the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association and the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance.
Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
For more information about the awards program, please contact Wilfredo Santosrivera, 405-631-3027.