PHILADELPHIA -- Bono, U2 lead singer
and activist, and DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), the advocacy
organization he co-founded to combat poverty and disease in Africa, were
presented with the National Constitution Center's 2007 Liberty Medal for their groundbreaking work in raising awareness about and spurring
a global response to the crisis of AIDS and extreme poverty in Africa.
Bono and DATA accepted the prestigious Medal and its accompanying $100,000 prize
in a public ceremony at the National Constitution Center in
Historic Philadelphia. All of the prize money will be donated to DATA.
During the ceremony, Joseph M. Torsella, National Constitution Center
President and CEO, said that this year's recipient is an inspirational
example of the power of citizens to elevate important issues to the world
"We honor Bono and DATA for leading an urgent conversation, challenging
the world's richest nations to do better by Africa, and challenging African
nations to do better by their own people," said Torsella. "And we honor the
way the great conversation about human liberty connects us all, across
places and times."
Bono, U2 lead singer and DATA co-founder, said, "This is a real honor
for myself and my bosses at DATA -- I am very proud of their work. It's
also a great excuse to go back to Philadelphia, where we launched the ONE
Campaign which now has 2.4 million Americans signed up to fight for justice
on behalf of the poorest of the poor. I don't suppose there are enough
Liberty Medals to go around, but in truth those people should all be
wearing one too."
Jamie Drummond, DATA's Executive Director said, "I'm profoundly proud
of DATA's work: from peddling anti-poverty policy to the Administration and
Congress, to our leadership role in launching the ONE Campaign and
organizing the Live 8 concert here in Philly two years ago. I am deeply
appreciative of this honor and of the additional doors I hope it will open
for our work. Every day 8,000 people die in Africa from AIDS and malaria
alone, two preventable, treatable diseases. It is an overwhelming tragedy,
but the challenges Africans are facing are not insurmountable. Effective
aid from the U.S. and the rest of the G8, combined with African
entrepreneurship, are working together to save lives and put millions of
kids in school. We are making amazing progress, but we have so much more to
President George H.W. Bush, Chairman of the National Constitution
Center and last year's Liberty Medal recipient, said that he and the
Center's Board of Trustees are proud to honor this year's recipient. "As a
direct result of their effective advocacy and grassroots activism, Bono and
his team have also helped to kindle the hopes and dreams of millions of
children seeking to rise above poverty and disease, and to build a better
life," said President Bush. "We rightly salute DATA for all they have done
to mobilize what our President would call the 'armies of compassion' to
help touch and lift the lives of so many in need."
A Philadelphia tradition rooted in the bicentennial of the Constitution
in 1987, the Liberty Medal was administered by the National Constitution
Center for the first time last year, when Bush was honored with President
Bill Clinton for their bi-partisan humanitarian efforts on behalf of the
victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia and the hurricanes on the Gulf
Coast. A global initiative of the Constitution Center, the Medal reflects
the values of the U.S. Constitution -- a belief in justice, fairness,
self-governance, and a balance between individual rights and communal
responsibility; in the power of people to effectuate change; and in
resolving issues through deliberation, compromise, and respect for diverse
Past Liberty Medal winners include Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, Shimon
Peres, Kofi Annan, and Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The Medal has
also been awarded to organizations, including Doctors Without Borders and
CNN International. Six former recipients of the Medal have subsequently won
the Nobel Peace Prize.
Established in 2002 by Bono, Bobby Shriver and Jamie Drummond, along
with other activists from the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt Campaign, DATA 's
mission is to eradicate extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa. DATA works
with the world's wealthiest nations - the United States, U.K., Germany,
France, Canada, Italy and Japan - to adopt new aid and trade policies that
will help Africans put themselves on the path to long-term prosperity and
stability. DATA also works with African leaders to support strengthened
democracy, accountability and transparency in government so that Africa's
citizens can ensure this assistance is being effectively deployed.
DATA has helped focus public attention on how to beat AIDS and extreme
poverty in Africa by working closely with politicians, the media and
celebrities. In 2005, DATA and campaigners around the world helped persuade
the G8 to reach an unprecedented agreement that included $25 billion in
additional development assistance for Africa by 2010, broad debt
cancellation, universal access to education, near universal access to AIDS
and malaria treatment and prevention. DATA is monitoring the G8's progress
on keeping these commitments and holding government leaders to public
account. If kept, these promises will save millions of lives and mark a
turning point in the West's relationship with Africa.
Mayor Street said, "I cannot think of a more deserving recipient of the
2007 Philadelphia Liberty Medal than Bono and his great organization, DATA.
And there is no city with a more distinguished humanitarian history to
present it in! Like Bono, we Philadelphians understand that we all must
care for people living with poverty and disease anyplace in this world."
At the core of DATA's beliefs is a view that these issues are not about
charity, but about equality and justice. At the core of DATA's actions is a
belief that catalyzing social movements, such as the ONE Campaign, are
critical to lasting change.
The Mayor continued, "During our participation in the worldwide Live 8
concerts on July 2, 2005, we showed the world what we are capable of - not
only as a city but as a people. Philadelphia was selected as the only US
city to host a Live 8 concert because of our city's rich humanitarian
history - and one million people came to celebrate this important event and
to focus the eyes of the world on Africa's needs. The Liberty Medal is a
tribute to that heritage."
Established in 1988 by We the People 200 to commemorate the
bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, the Liberty Medal annually honors an
individual or an organization from anywhere in the world that has
"demonstrated leadership and vision in the pursuit of liberty of conscience
or freedom from oppression, ignorance or deprivation." Since 2006, the
National Constitution Center has administered the Liberty Medal, which
includes the annual presentation of the award and a host of supplemental
programs and activities designed to extend the Medal's reach throughout the
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