On Monday, we were thrilled to see The Circle founder Annie Lennox receive the George Harrison Global Citizen Award at the Global Citizen Festival in New York. The award honoured her contribution to music and activism throughout her career.
Olivia Harrison presented the award. Annie then followed her acceptance speech with a surprise performance with Harrison’s son Dhani.
You can read her acceptance speech in full below:
Thank you so much Olivia. And thank you so much to the Material World Foundation for this incredible award.
I’m moved, humbled and honoured to receive it.
The beauty and power of George Harrison’s music continues to inspire millions of people with its social, political, universal message for a more sustainable, peaceful world.
I have always loved George’s music and everything he stood for, not only as a brilliant artist, but also as a highly intelligent, sensitive and compassionate man — deeply committed to the issues of human rights, freedom and justice.
In 1971, The Concert for Bangladesh was an innovative, groundbreaking event where he fearlessly created a global platform for advocacy through music, to raise awareness and inspire action in response to a desperate situation.
In 2017 — 46 years later, the Global Citizen Movement is boldly carrying the same torch forwards, with the same ethics and values — that we are all citizens of the world, each with a part to play in facing our complex interconnected global challenges.
The list of challenges is endless, but please bear with me while I name just a few.
The toxic effects of man-made pollution on Earth’s natural environment — the air, the rivers, lakes and seas.
The catastrophic effects of wantonly plundering Earth’s natural resources, risking the sustainability of human existence on this planet.
Deforestation, desertification — Ancient glaciers melting into the sea, sea levels rising exponentially.
The ongoing decimation of indigenous peoples and their traditional ways of life.
The decimation of animal species up to the point of virtual extinction.
The horrendous destruction of human lives through unspeakable crimes of warfare and genocide.
As I speak, 65 million people are displaced or living as refugees.
The vicious trap of poverty and the endemic misery it creates, with its dehumanising cyclic effects.
The rising trends of divisive bigotry, hatred, prejudice, racism, misogyny and violence in a world where one in three women have experienced abuse.
The challenges of global health epidemics — HIV/AIDS, Ebola, tuberculosis, malaria, etc.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop at this point before you become despairing or simply immune.
My thinking is… if we can distribute Coca Cola to every corner of the world, and send men and women into space, then surely there are solutions to these problems.
We are used to thinking that we don’t count individually. That is why it is so important to identify and engage with whichever piece of action you want to support, because, believe me, collectively everyone can make a difference.
But you need to choose hope over despair, responsibility over indifference, feminism over misogyny, and respect, love and kindness over bigotry, division and hatred.
So here’s what you can do just as one person. Inform yourself, choose a cause and give it your commitment. Support an organisation and join them. Donate what you can afford, or persuade others to raise money. Speak up, write, blog, march… Just do something!
And if you’re listening to this and you haven’t already done so, go to the Global Citizen website and take your first step into transformative change through positive action.
As a global feminist, I am very grateful to be able to share and amplify this message, and I am truly honoured to be part of the Global Citizen’s ethos, which I endorse with all my heart. Thank you.
So now, ladies and gentlemen, I’m thrilled and delighted to welcome to the stage Dhani Harrison.