Creating a Ripple of Hope:
The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 by his eldest child, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, to honor courageous individuals striving for social justice throughout the world. Each year, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights recognizes an individual whose courageous activism is at the heart of the human rights movement and in the spirit of Robert F. Kennedy's vision and legacy. The Human Rights Award laureates have made significant contributions to their countries through years of dedicated work. Laureates are chosen through an exhaustive annual nomination and selection process with nominations submitted from all over the world. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights offers not only a monetary contribution to their cause, but also forges strategic partnerships with the recipients of the award.
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." Robert F. Kennedy - Capetown, South Africa 1966
To create a better understanding of how Art can be used to create a Ripple of Hope we will be focusing on two world-reknown artists Bono and Wyclef John. Both artists have used music to shape public opinion and have had great influence on the interpretation of events and circumstances in our communities.
"As champions of justice, Bono and Wyclef have brought the national spotlight to human rights violations, empowered local activists, and transformed the lives of millions of people living in poverty from Port-Au-Prince to Darfur,” said Kerry Kennedy, founder of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights and of RFK Europe. “Their efforts evoke the spirit of my father and we are honored to recognize them.”
Jenni Williams, founder of Women of Zimbabwe Arise and 2009 RFK Human Rights Award winner, introduced Bono who was then presented the award by Ethel Kennedy. Bono, the lead singer of U2 and co-founder of the advocacy organization ONE and (Product) RED, was recognized for his efforts in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particular in Africa (www.one.org,www.joinred.com).
“Though we're not usually that partial to Royals, growing up in Ireland in the 70s, the Kennedy family felt like an Irish royal family. Bobby Kennedy was a super-hero, an Irish scrapper who didn't see any contradiction between hard-headed pragmatism and an idealism that challenged all of us to change the world. That's why the Ripple of Hope award means so much. RFK was the blue print for our activism in the ONE campaign,” Bono said. “The image of Bobby that will forever be in my mind is of a man with his sleeves rolled up, hard at work and showing a hint of muscle. His life is an enduring challenge to all of us to do more, get beyond ourselves and send out our own ripples of hope to the world.”
Loune Viaud, who received the RFK Human Rights Award in 2002 for her work in Haiti, introduced her fellow countryman, Wyclef Jean. Jean was recognized for his work to strengthen and inspire change in Haiti through his Yéle Haiti organization (www.yele.org).
"It is an honor to receive this award for so many reasons,” said Jean, who was also the evening’s musical performer. “The Kennedy Family and Robert F. Kennedy have represented and fought for the rights of people around the world, and have paid the ultimate sacrifice for it. I am humbled by their work, and use it as an example in the work I continue to do in Haiti, the United States, Africa and around the globe. I look forward to working closely with Kerry Kennedy and the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights in Haiti as a part of our Yéle Center."