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Bono and Wyclef Jean Receive RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights' Ripple of Hope Award

Honor Recognizes Courageous and Innovative Approaches to Human Rights

NEW YORK, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Last night at its annual awards dinner, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights presented Bono and Wyclef Jean with the organization's 2009 Ripple of Hope Award. The award recognizes the bold leadership demonstrated by the two honorees on humanitarian issues.


"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."

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, particularly in Africa (,

"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 Yele Haiti organization (

"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 Yele Center."

The evening was emceed by actor Peter Gallagher and included monologues based on the play "Speak Truth to Power" performed by Matthew Modine, Matt McCoy, Joey Pantoliano and Gloria Reuben. There was also a special tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy, who served as a member of the RFK Board of Directors from 1968 until his passing this year.

Other guests included 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 concluded with a rousing rendition of "Redemption Song" by Wyclef and Bono, and a performance of "Carnival" by Wyclef that brought the entire crowd of over 800 people - including Ethel Kennedy - to their feet singing and dancing.

The RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the human rights movement through innovative support to human rights defenders around the world. With an over forty-year track record of attaining concrete results on cutting-edge social justice issues, the RFK Center carries forward Robert F. Kennedy's vision of a more just and peaceful world. To learn more about the RFK Center, please visit

SOURCE RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights

SOURCE RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights
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