Joan Baez, Amnesty and You

Following is a special message from longtime Amnesty supporter Joan Baez during our annual September Membership Drive:

Joan Baez

Dear Amnesty Supporter,

All my life I’ve felt humbled in the face of the suffering of others. It is only that I, by accident of birth, was born in the right place at the right time, and that someone else, not me, huddles in a prison cell, is tortured, and faces the unbearable consequences of having been born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, as the legendary Phil Ochs song says, there but for fortune, go you or I.

Happily for me, I discovered early on that, in the words of Swedish Ambassador Harald Edelstam, “I cannot tolerate injustice.” This inability to tolerate injustice has brought me to the roots of human misery, called me to engage in the fight for the rights, freedoms, and the dignity of others. And in so doing, has helped me to maintain my own dignity.

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Amnesty's 50th Anniversary Meeting Kicks Off!

Our 50th anniversary Annual General Meeting kicks off tonight in San Francisco!  Over 1,400 Amnesty International activists from across the country (and across the sea!) have already registered, making this the biggest annual meeting we’ve had yet.

At tonight’s opening ceremony we’ll be honoring one of Amnesty USA’s founding members, the fabulous Joan Baez for a lifetime of human rights activism and solidarity.

We’ll also be celebrating our 50th anniversary – that’s 50 years of hard work by you, our members and activists, in shining a light on human rights — in addition to a packed agenda with panels to help us strategize for our continued fight for human rights everywhere.

We look forward to seeing you there! If you can’t make it, check in on this blog where we’ll be posting updates throughout the event.  You can also follow the AGM Twitter feed @AmnestyAGM for updates from the conference or hashtag #agm11 to join the conversation.

Joan Baez: A Lifetime of Human Rights Advocacy

In 1973, Joan Baez signs Amnesty International's anti-torture petition in London.

Amnesty International turns 50 this year, and closely linked to Amnesty’s legacy of championing human rights is that of folk legend Joan Baez.

Baez was an active supporter of Amnesty from the start, stuffing envelopes at our first home office in San Francisco– not coincidentally, where this year’s Annual General Meeting is being held. This Friday, as part of our anniversary AGM,  Joan Baez will be honored for a lifetime of human rights solidarity and advocacy.

Her receiving the award also marks an exciting beginning, as it will establish the Amnesty International Joan Baez Award for Outstanding, Inspirational Service in the Global Fight for Human Rights. The award will be given to artists – working in music, film, fine arts or other media – who similarly contribute to the advancement of human rights.

Baez will be presented with the first award in recognition of her historic, ground-breaking and courageous human rights work with Amnesty International and beyond, and the inspiration she has given activists around the world. In the early 1970′s, she devoted a full year to help establish Amnesty International chapters in the San Francisco bay area. Among her innumerable, diverse contributions to Amnesty, she has headlined anti-death penalty rallies and traveled to New York and Paris for the organization’s first Campaign to Abolish Torture.

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