PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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 last night 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 7:00 p.m. 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 stage.
"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 do."
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 viewpoints.
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 year.
The Liberty Medal ceremony was broadcast live on WPVI-TV, 6abc at 7:00 p.m. and webcast on http://www.libertymedal.org. The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation provided marketing support for the 2007 Liberty Medal in Historic Philadelphia.
Ira Lubert of Independence Capital Partners and Brian O'Neill of O'Neill Properties Group served as co-chairs of the 2007 Liberty Medal. Their respective companies were the Celebration Sponsors for the 2007 Liberty Medal, which underwrote the $100,000 cash prize awarded to the Liberty Medal recipients. SAP America, Inc. served as the Gala Dinner Sponsor and Citizens Bank served as the President's Reception Sponsor.
The National Constitution Center, located at 525 Arch St. on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents. Opened on July 4, 2003, the Constitution Center is a museum, an education center, and a forum for debate on constitutional issues. The museum dramatically tells the story of the Constitution from Revolutionary times to the present through more than 100 interactive, multimedia exhibits, film, photographs, text, sculpture and artifacts, and features a powerful, award-winning theatrical performance, "Freedom Rising." The Center also houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as the hub for national constitutional education and debates. Also, serving as a nonpartisan forum for constitutional discourse, the Center presents - without endorsement - programs that contain diverse viewpoints on a broad range of issues. For more information, call 215.409.6600 or visit http://www.constitutioncenter.org.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A complete list of Liberty Medal Winners follows.
Past Recipients of the Liberty Medal
-- 2006 - George H.W. Bush and William J. Clinton, former U.S.
Presidents (joint prize)
-- 2005 - Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine
-- 2004 - Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan
-- 2003 - Sandra Day O'Connor, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
-- 2002 - Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State
-- 2001 - Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General*
-- 2000 - Dr. James Watson / Dr. Francis Crick, co-discoverers of the
structure of DNA (joint prize)
-- 1999 - Kim Dae Jung, President of South Korea*
-- 1998 - Senator George J. Mitchell, Irish Peace Negotiator
-- 1997 - CNN International
-- 1996 - King Hussein I of Jordan / Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister
of Israel (joint prize)*
-- 1995 - Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees
-- 1994 - Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic
-- 1993 - F.W. de Klerk, President of South Africa / Nelson Mandela,
President of the African National Congress (joint prize)*
-- 1992 - Thurgood Marshall, former Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
-- 1991 - Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica / Medecins sans Frontieres
(Doctors without Borders) (joint prize)*
-- 1990 - Jimmy Carter, former U.S. President*
-- 1989 - Lech Walesa, founder of Solidarity, Poland
* Nobel Peace Prize winners
|SOURCE National Constitution Center|
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