Bono honours the legacy of Martin Luther King

19 Jan 2004
Bono honours the legacy of Martin Luther King.

On the seventy fifth birthday of the great civil rights leader, Bono laid a wreath at his grave, met with his widow Coretta Scott King and was honoured at the annual 'Salute to Greatness' awards at the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Great selection of photos by Phillip Safarian here

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a photo gallery of Bono in Atlanta here

Yahoo have more photos here

Speaking to a gathering of activists on Saturday, Bono argued that the Rev. Martin Luther King. Jr.'s concept of nonviolent activism needs to be applied to the issue of AIDS in Africa so that pressure is put on governments and corporations in the developed world to help "the poorest of the poor."

"It's not a cause," he said, sitting next to Coretta Scott King. "It's an emergency."

At the meeting, which also included U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and comedian and actor Chris Tucker, Bono explained that there is "no time for posturing."

"No time for taking a position. You need to work with everybody - governments, churches, corporations. Everybody."

He said King's message of peace and justice influenced him greatly as a teenager, while Northern Ireland was engulfed in violence. "He wasn't just talking about the American dream. It was a much bigger idea, actually, an idea that could fit an African dream, an Irish dream. And it certainly wasn't a daydream. It was a call to action."

An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV, according to a report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, and the World Health Organization. About 5 million people across the globe were newly infected in 2003; 3 million others died of AIDS.

Bono argued that the role the United States plays to combat the pandemic could change the negative image many people in other countries have of the US after the invasion of Iraq. Bono praised Congressman Lewis for his leadership during the civil rights movement and said Atlanta should also be at the forefront of the movement to fight HIV/AIDS in the United States and worldwide.

He also predicted that leaders of the world's wealthiest nations can expect plenty of protesters this June when they gather on Sea Island. "The G-8, the richest countries in the world, are coming to Georgia this summer for their big hoo-ha. I think they came to the right state, because I met some pretty energetic people and they've got something they want to say.

The G8 is set to meet on the resort of Sea Island in part because of its secure and remote location - previous meetings have been disrupted by protesters opposed to their policies toward poorer nations. However, said Bono, they may be on an island, but these people can swim."

Over the weekend Bono and other representatives from the campaigning organisation DATA met local activists, including HIV/AIDS vaccine researchers, community health providers, and volunteers who are fighting AIDS both in Atlanta and in Africa. More on the work of DATA to fight poverty and AIDS here

Learn more about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr at The King Center


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