I’ve loved Bonnie’s Raitt’s music for ages. Not just her music but really her whole vibe. Yeah, I love the red headed vibrancy she emanates and her guitar chops kick ass. She’s right there with the blues and she can bring you to your knees with some of those soulful ballads too.
What I didn’t know was that she’s had a long standing relationship with AFSC.
One of our most famous families of supporters are the entertainers (father) John and (daughter) Bonnie Raitt. Their roots in peace go back to the early 1960s, when John Raitt starred in an AFSC-produced film urging nuclear disarmament. We present these clips from “Which Way the Wind?” to show that even when things change, they remain the same.
When John Raitt, Marsha Hunt, and James Whitmore made this film almost 50 years ago, the world remembered Hiroshima and Nagasaki vividly. That memory has faded. The nuclear threat remains.
Here’s a sweet 2 minute interview where Bonnie talks about her early influences:
As I’ve said here before, my activism was honed in the early 70’s when I was in high school. I learned from some incredibly fine people, most of them my agemates, and I internalized many of the principles and values of the AFSC.
This AFSC community works to transform conditions and relationships both in the world and in ourselves, which threaten to overwhelm what is precious in human beings. We nurture the faith that conflicts can be resolved nonviolently, that enmity can be transformed into friendship, strife into cooperation, poverty into well-being, and injustice into dignity and participation. We believe that ultimately goodness can prevail over evil, and oppression in all its many forms can give way.
AFSC is the service arm of the Friends and you can read more of the history here, including info about their 1947 Nobel Peace Prize. The Youth Group I was in was very informal, we just called it the “Friday Night Group”. I can’t quite remember how I even discovered it but some of our most basic practices there were hugs and debate. lol. I lost touch with most of those folks eons ago, but… I know they’re out there still working for peace and justice.
Recognizing that most conflicts have their roots in injustice, the Quaker organization has been long concerned with eliminating injustice at home in the United States. This has led to a long history of involvement with Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, migrant workers, prisoners, and the poor. The AFSC helps work with people to organize community action to obtain better schools, better housing, and better working conditions.
Also throughout the United States, the AFSC works continually to create an informed public opinion on the issues of war and peace.
If immigration issues is your thing, go have a look here. (thats for NPK).
As far as activism goes, there’s just tons of stuff on the web and in the world. It’s hard to know or trust. I found this which I thought gives an indication of how strong AFSC is with its walk.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an organization founded by Quakers, actively advocates for peace and social justice. The AFSC has worked with people like Matt Damon, Bonnie Raitt, Mimi Kennedy, and Shiva Rose McDermott. Their philosophy for working with celebrities extends beyond just donating, and aims toward building a relationship.
Karen Hayes, a major gift fundraiser, has worked with many celebrities and explains, “The overarching goal is to develop a partnership between the AFSC and the particular person. We have a conversation to find out what that person’s interests are and try to find the most meaningful way to partner. Meaningful for them as well as for us.”
She elaborates that “Matt Damon did a poster for our anti-death penalty work a couple of years ago. People have spoken at our press conferences. Bonnie Raitt has raised funds for us through ticket sales to a concert. And a number of high profile people are actual donors to the AFSC.”
The use of celebrities is actually a delicate matter. More so than the publicity shots may suggest. At the end of the day, these organizations are working for change. Involving a celebrity can give the impression that they are more concerned about media coverage. Especially when a group’s mission is rooted in achieving a purpose without expecting fanfare.
Bonnie walks it too. If you go to her website, you’re going to see news about her current tour of course and the usual goodies. But check out her section on ACTIVISM. She even includes links , pretty cool, huh.
Bonnie is as known for her lifelong commitment to social activism as she is for her music. She has long been involved with the environmental movement, doing concerts around Forest, Oil, Mining and Water protection since the mid-70s. She was a founding member of MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) which produced the historic concerts, album and movie, NO NUKES in 1979. She has been especially active in the fight to preserve our Ancient Forests, performing numerous concerts, lobbying in Washington and getting arrested twice in support of a change in forest policy.
She has also supported groups working for Native American, women’s and human rights, as well as the fight against apartheid in South Africa and U.S. involvement in the war in Central America in the 80s.
As one of the founding members of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation she continues to work for increased recognition, health benefits and royalty reform for the pioneer generation of R&B artists to whom we owe so much. In 1995, she helped establish the Bonnie Raitt Guitar Program, which now provides free guitar lessons to kids in over 180 Boys and Girls Clubs around the world.
So… go Bonnie. Go AFSC.