Ken Neubeck

Ken NeubeckPhoto by Paul Neevel

After 32 years of teaching sociology at the University of Connecticut, where he established an academic curriculum in human rights and wrote books including Welfare Racism: Playing the Race Card Against America’s Poor, Prof. Ken Neubeck accepted a “golden handshake” retirement offer at age 60. His wife Mary Alice, an assistant dean at the school, also retired, and in 2003 the couple arrived in Eugene, where their son Michael and his family were living. “I made a decision to not go back to academia,” he says, “except for occasional lectures. Instead, I threw myself into activism.” He brought his golden retriever, Tanner, to River Road Elementary School to listen to kids practicing their reading, and he began volunteering at the Amigos Multicultural Center, an immigrant rights group. He was invited to join its board, and he served as executive director from 2006 to 2012. “I worked hard to support the youth group, Juventud FACETA,” he says. “Immigrant youth who graduate become human rights ambassadors.” As a member of the Eugene Human Rights Commission since 2008, Neubeck has promoted human rights as something broader than civil rights to not be discriminated against. “Back in 2011,” he says, “I put forward a proposal to revise the city’s Human Rights Ordinance to promote the full range of human rights as found in the Universal Declaration: rights to food, housing and medical care. It was unanimous with the City Council.” In recent years, he has volunteered as a crisis counselor for Occupy Medical and a legal observer with the Civil Liberties Defense Center. He has also been active with Showing up for Racial Justice, with the Integration Network for Immigrants of Lane County and with the Western Regional Advocacy Project, working for an Oregon Homeless Bill of Rights. 

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