• Press Release


March 27, 2011

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Grammy Winners Steve Earle and Saúl Hernández and Musician Chad Stokes
Perform Baez Tribute During Organization’s Annual Convention in San Francisco

Contact:  Wende Gozan Brown, [email protected], 212-633-4247.

San Francisco – More than 1,000 Amnesty International activists from across the country will converge in San Francisco on Friday, March 18, to pay tribute to folk legend Joan Baez for a lifetime of human rights solidarity and advocacy.  The tribute, which is part of the human rights organization’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) during its 50th anniversary year, will take place at the Fairmont Hotel and is open to the public. Tickets for the Baez event are $40; fans and activists attending the tribute are encouraged to arrive at 5:00 p.m. sharp for the AGM’s opening ceremonies to ensure seating.

“Whether marching arm in arm with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or stuffing envelopes at our first home office in San Francisco, Joan’s commitment to human rights has known no bounds,” said Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) Executive Director Larry Cox.  “It is no exaggeration that many attending this annual conference are direct descendants of a human rights family that Joan created.  Her devotion is a constant reminder of what can be accomplished when one will put herself on the line to effect change.  We are grateful for her lasting legacy.” 

The tribute is the inaugural event for the Amnesty International Joan Baez Award for Outstanding, Inspirational Service in the Global Fight for 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.  The award is to be given to an artist – music, film, sculpture, paint or other medium – who has similarly helped advanced human rights.   

Baez devoted a full year to help establish Amnesty International chapters in the San Francisco Bay area in the early ‘70s, stayed active with the organization as a member of the National Advisory Board and later performed during the renowned “Conspiracy of Hope” tour.  Throughout the years she has done everything from attending editorial board meetings and writing donor letters (some with conservative author and commentator William F. Buckley) to headlining anti-death penalty rallies and going to New York and Paris for the organization’s first Campaign to Abolish Torture.

Baez’ work with Amnesty International came amid a lifelong career of human rights activism, which included marching for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fighting for the rights of California’s migrant farm workers alongside César Chávez, supporting gay and lesbian rights and traveling around the world to participate in human rights missions. Her high profile did not make her immune to the plight of human rights defenders the world over who put their lives on the line; she received death threats while touring Brazil, Argentina and Chile in the early ‘80s.

At the event, several artists whose deep-rooted commitment to human rights has been inspired by Baez will perform as a tribute: Dispatch/State Radio musician and activist Chad Stokes; Grammy-award winning singer, songwriter and death penalty abolitionist Steve Earle; and Saúl Hernández, singer and songwriter of the  Grammy award winning rock bands Caifanes and Jaguares. 

The 60-minute tribute immediately segues from the AGM opening ceremonies, with a convention-style rally led by Magdaleno Rose-Avila, a former AIUSA staffer and member of the board who held his first job as a farm worker at age 11, graduated with a B.A. from the University of Colorado and later organized for César Chávez.  The opening ceremonies will also include a performance from Cleveland-born, Oakland-based MC Jahi and remarks from Cox. 

Amnesty International – today the largest grassroots human rights organization in the world with nearly 3 million members worldwide — has helped win the freedom of tens of thousands of individuals jailed for expressing beliefs or defending basic rights, shut down torture chambers, halted executions, and established laws and treaties to protect the freedom and dignity of people around the world – and in the United States. Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977.
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