Obama Receives The RFK Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award

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Former President Obama onstage at the 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple Of Hope Awards. Photo credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

By Sangeeta Waldron 

On 12 December in New York, a very special evening took place when the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization hosted the 2018 Ripple of Hope Awards, honoring four exceptional laureates, which included the 44th US President, Barack Obama. The three other laureates were, Humana CEO Bruce D. Broussard, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav.

They were each selected for their ongoing work toward a more just and peaceful world, and their lifelong work in the fight for social change, equality, justice and global human rights.

Kerry Kennedy, the organization’s president and daughter of Robert Kennedy, presented the 44th president with the award for those who have “demonstrated a commitment to social change.” In her opening remarks, Kerry Kennedy highlighted the importance of the organization’s 50th anniversary, sharing touching remarks about her father’s legacy, noting, “Daddy ran for president at a time when our country was more divided than at any time since the present.  And he spent his campaign trying to heal divisions in our country.  He was able to do that, because he appealed to the best in us, the better angels of our nature…” She continued, “His message is perhaps more important now than at any time in the last 50 years…We are taking his message of justice and peace and compassion and sharing it around the world.”

Former President Obama accepts an award onstage from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy. Photo credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Obama who recognized for his longstanding commitment to civic responsibility, social justice, service, and outstanding global and domestic leadership on a wide range of pressing issues. The former President wrote on Twitter on Wednesday 12 December, “As Bobby Kennedy taught us, the thing about hope is that it travels through space *and* time, first splashing against the rocks, but eventually breaking down the walls of cruelty and injustice. And if we do our best with the time we’re given, others will take hope in our example.”

In his speech, delivered upon his acceptance of the award, Obama looked towards a promising future, saying, “Bobby Kennedy reminds us that if we do our best with the time that we are given, then others will take over in our example. They will find their own strength, they will summon others to hope; and that strength, that hope, will course through their children, their grandchildren, and all the children who come.”

The awards night was hosted by actor Alec Baldwin and was attended by over 1,600 guests. Special guests included the organization’s president Kerry Kennedy, as well as family members Bobby Kennedy Jr and Caroline Kennedy. Others included, celebrity guests – Robert De Niro, Bianca Jagger, Jon Bon Jovi, Julianna Margulies, John McEnroe and many more. The evening raised over $6M and the proceeds will go towards providing critical support for the organization’s global social justice and human rights programs.

Past recipients of the Ripple of Hope award include Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Al Gore, John Lewis, Robert De Niro, Taylor Swift and George Clooney.

This week also marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations (UN) on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day.

In October this year, India was elected with the highest number of votes by the General Assembly to the influential Human Rights Council with a pledge to combat intolerance. This is the fifth time India has been elected to the Geneva-based Council, the main body of the UN charged with promoting and monitoring human rights.

India has pledged that it will continue to support international efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. In the nomination pledge, India also presented a broader approach to human rights, emphasizing climate justice, health and poverty alleviation.

(About the Author: Sangeeta Waldron is India CSR’s Contributing Global Editor. She is based in London, UK writes on international affairs, broadening India CSR’s news scope to bring you the best stories from around the world.)

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