Dec. 27—BLUEFIELD — She jokingly told her professor that he should take her along when he visited a United Nations session in Switzerland, but that suggestion ended up taking both her and her classmates to Geneva and sharing information with the UN.
Charkera Ervin, a 2004 graduate of Bluefield High School, is currently attending the Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC.
In early December, Ervin and her classmates traveled to the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in Geneva, Switzerland. The forum was created on Aug. 2, 2021 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to organize it. Ervin’s studies led her to attending this year’s session of the forum.
“Well, it first came about because my professor is an elected member of that forum,” Ervin said. “Ten people are elected to that forum, and he’s one of the members. He basically represents most of the Western countries: the US, Canada, the UK (United Kingdom) and a couple of European nations that will be represented at that forum.”
Ervin had suggested earlier that she might want to attend the UN forum. She had interned with her professor during the summer.
“He kind of asked,” Ervin recalled. “I had jokingly said this summer that he should take us to Geneva when he goes, and I guess that kind of got through and he figured out a way not to just take me. He got a donation from a firm to take not just me but his entire class.”
Ervin and her classmates left for Europe about a month later.
“There was a lot of logistics that we just put together very quickly,” she said. “He took the entire movement lawyering clinic.” She thought for a moment. “It was, I want to say, about 13 students.”
Ervin and her classmates were in Geneva from Dec. 5 to 7. While she did not get to speak directly to the UN delegates, she and her classmates participated in a side event which let them share information with the international body. In this event, students each chose a specific city and discussed the Black community’s human rights in that city.
“Mine was Pittsburgh, but the other students picked other cities,” she said. “It’s evaluated by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This story I told of Pittsburgh, it might be a tale of two cities. “
“Pittsburgh was once declared one of America’s most livable cities and America’s worst city women,” Ervin stated. “And both of them were backed up by data, so I spoke mostly on the health disparities and the housing disparities when it came to Pittsburgh. In addition to this presentation at the side events in Geneva, each student is writing a report that will be put out in the spring.”
Ervin said that part of the information her report was based on came from a Nov. 18 town hall meeting in Pittsburgh that included many different organizations and members of the community. and the side event was attended by Taylor Green, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
As for the future, Ervin is planning for a career with the law and public policy.
“Basically, any way I can help positively impact people’s lives, so that’s where I plan on going,” she said. “I hope that I can continue to work on things like this in the future that are this good, this impactful, this historic.”
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