Fulbright Prize Honors Bono

Fulbright Prize Honors Bono, Lead Singer of U2, Activist, and Co-founder of ONE and (RED) 


 Washington, DC – Today, the Fulbright Association presented Bono, U2 lead singer and co-founder of ONE and (RED), with the 2021 J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding for his commitment to seek justice by fighting to end extreme poverty, tackle global health crises, and spur economic development in the poorest parts of the planet.

Watch the program here.

Speaking at this evening’s event about growing up in Ireland, Bono said, ”We looked to America. We saw a country with its own long-running arguments, its own injustices. We knew this promised land wasn’t always keeping to that promise. We knew America wasn’t living up to all its ideals, but the fact is America had ideals.

“We knew that because you wrote them down, you cited them, you held yourself to account on them. They shaped the struggle for civil rights and women’s rights and gay rights. I don’t know how, but I seemed to know that America wasn’t just a country. I felt it was an idea, if not yet a fact.

“Even when it got messy. Even when it got wild. America isn’t classical music, America is punk rock, America is hip-hop. I had a sense of America’s wrestling with itself, caught in the act of becoming… becoming itself… becoming its better self.

“William Fulbright talked about ‘the magnetism of freedom’, though he was selective about it. Even if he missed the full expression of it, in Ireland we felt its pull. And I have ever since.

“I love this song called America. And I ask you tonight as both fanboy and critic: Can you still hold that tune?”

“The causes Bono has devoted himself to remain all too relevant today. While affordable treatments have brought HIV/AIDS under control, a new pandemic left Africans at the back of the queue for vaccines,” said Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, who introduced Bono. “So, we will still need Bono to keep up his advocacy work in the months and years ahead. And though he won’t have time to rest on his laurels, there’s no one who deserves this award more than he does.”

The Prize focuses on and rewards outstanding contributors to bringing cultures, nations and peoples together. Past Prize Laureates include Nelson Mandela, Bill and Melinda Gates, Desmond Tutu, President Bill Clinton, and Chancellor Angela Merkel amongst many others. The Prize also directly benefits the charitable priority of the Laureate. This year, Bono will be donating his $50,000 award to ONE and (RED).

“We’re honored to recognize and celebrate Bono’s commitment to fighting injustice, extreme poverty, the global AIDS crisis, and more recently, the disparities in the global COVID-19 response,” said Justice Cynthia A. Baldwin, Fulbright Association Board Chair and Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice. “The purpose of the Fulbright Prize is to recognize those who promote peace through greater understanding among peoples, cultures, and nations, and there’s no doubt that Bono embodies the best of leadership in times of unrelenting global crises and challenges.”

“Bono joins a distinguished history of laureates, and the recognition is well deserved,” said John Bader, Fulbright Association Executive Director. “We all have a responsibility to advance peace and understanding, and I hope that Bono’s leadership serves as an example to people around the world that we can all use our time, unique talent, and platform for a greater purpose.”

The 2021 J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding Award Ceremony was made possible by generous contributions from sponsors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. H. Andréa Neves, BroadReach Group, Egon Zehnder, Namecoach, and Georgia-Pacific.


About the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding

The Fulbright Prize honors one of the world’s most prestigious international exchange programs, as well as the vision of its sponsor, the late Senator J. William Fulbright. Awarded by the Fulbright Association since 1993, the Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to promoting peace through greater understanding among peoples, cultures, and nations. The Prize has a distinguished history of laureates, among them Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton, Vaclav Havel, Corazon Aquino, Mary Robinson, Doctors without Borders, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Angela Merkel. More on the Prize, with a complete list of laureates, at fulbright.org/prize

About the Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year, marking its creation in 1946 through Congressional legislation proposed by Senator J. William Fulbright. The Program embodies the visionary concept of promoting mutual understanding between countries through academic and bicultural exchange. The Program provides exchanges between the United States and more than 160 countries worldwide, funded by the U.S. Government with bipartisan support and contributions from 52 foreign countries whose permanent commissions execute the Fulbright Program on a binational level. Annually, about 8,000 grantees, American and foreign, participate in the Fulbright exchange as students, scholars, researchers, English teachers, and professional specialists. Since its inception, the Program has sponsored approximately 390,000 grantees. Read more at eca.state.gov/fulbright

About the Fulbright Association

The Fulbright Association is the alumni organization of the Fulbright Program in the United States, representing over 140,000 American grantees. Founded in 1977, it is an independent non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, with 55 chapters in 38 states. Its mission is to continue and extend the Fulbright tradition of education, advocacy, and service through local, national and international programs. The Fulbright Association works with partners in more than 160 countries and 70 sister alumni associations around the world. Read more at fulbright.org


Online Photo Gallery Link for Guests



Fulbright Ceremony Highlights

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