– Bono’s Speech at the NAACP!
Wow. Shee! Tyra Banks you are gorgeous! I was a finalist in Ireland’s Next Top Model. I look up to you. Literally. You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful too. I of course am so truly humbled to share the stage with the great Julian Bond. Just, wow. Cool customer. I’m also – you know, when people talk about the greatness of America, I just think of the NAACP, that what I think of – it genuinely comes to my head. And I’m also honored to be on the same stage as the other honorees, Sold Out, Bill Cosby, Prince. So cool, so cool.
See, I grew up in Ireland, and when I grew up, Ireland was divided along religious lines, sectarian lines. Young people like me were parched for the vision that poured out of pulpits of Black America. And the vision of a Black reverend from Atlanta, a man who refused to hate because he knew love would do a better job. These ideas travel, you know, and they reached me clear as any tune and lodged in my brain like a song, I couldn’t shake that. This is Ireland in the 70’s growing up, people like me looked across the ocean to the NAACP. And I’m here tonight and (?) feels good, feels very very good. Well today the world looks again to the NAACP. We need the community that taught the world about civil rights to teach it something about human rights. Yeah! I’m talking about the right to live like a human, the right to live period. Those are the stakes in Africa right now. Five and a half thousand Africans dying every day of AIDS, a preventable, treatable disease. Nearly a million Africans most of them children dying every year from malaria. Death by mosquito bite. This is not about charity, as you know here in this room. This is about justice, it’s about justice and equality. Now I know that America hasn’t solved all of its problems and I know AIDS is still killing people right here in America, and I know the hardest hit are African-Americans, many of them young women. Today at a church in Oakland, I went to see such extraordinary people with this lioness here, Barbara Lee, took me around and with her pastor J. Alfred Smith – and may I say that it was the poetry and the righteous anger of the Black church that was such an inspiration to me, a very white, almost pink, Irish man growing up in Dublin.
This is true religion. True religion will not let us fall asleep in the comfort of our freedom. “Love thy neighbor” is not a piece of advice, it’s a command. And that means in the global village we’re going to have to start loving a whole lot more people, that’s what that means. That’s right. “His truth is marching on.”
Two million Americans have signed up to the One campaign to make poverty history. Tonight the NAACP is signing up to work with us, and so can you. “His truth is marching on.” Because where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.
And to those in the church who still sit in judgment on the AIDS emergency, let me climb into the pulpit for just one moment. Because whatever thoughts we have about God, who He is, or even if God exists, most will agree that God has a special place for the poor. The poor are where God lives. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is where the opportunity is lost and lives are shattered. God is with the mother who has infected her child with a virus that will take both their lives. God is under the rubble in the cries we hear during wartime. God, my friends, is with the poor. And God is with us if we are with them.\
This is not a burden, this is an adventure. Don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done. We can be the generation that ends extreme poverty. Thank you.