By Delinda Lombardo on
Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, producer Wyclef Jean, and (RED) founder/U2 front man Bono, were honored this week at a ceremony thrown by The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, where each were awarded the ‘Ripple of Hope’ Award.
“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. “Their efforts evoke the spirit of my father and we are honored to recognize them.”
Jean was honored for his work to inspire change in his native country of Haiti through his Yéle Haiti Foundation.
“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.”
Bono was recognized for his efforts in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particular in Africa with the ONE Campaign, DATA and (Product) RED.
“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.”
The event was emceed by actor Peter Gallagher, and guests included: Matthew Modine, Matt McCoy, Joey Pantoliano, Gloria Reuben, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Governor Jon Corzine, Harry Belafonte, Martha Stewart, Bill O’Reilly, Ana Ortiz, Aasif Mandvi, Liya Kebede, Earl Graves, Terry Kinney, Rebecca Minkoff, Charles Nolan, Richard Plepler, Tom Freston and Orin Kramer.
The evening ended on a high note as Bono joined Wyclef on stage for a rendition of “Redemption Song,” after which Wyclef performed “Carnival” and brought the entire crowd of over 800 people – including Ethel Kennedy – to their feet singing and dancing.
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