"FOR BONO: VISION OVER VISIBILITY"
On Monday, 18 January, the U.S. will celebrate its national holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. U2 have a well-known association with the legacy of Dr. King which goes beyond their songs "PRIDE: In the Name of Love" and "MLK" or Bono's exhortations onstage during the Vertigo Tour alluding that Dr. King's Dream was also an "African Dream".
Last year during the MLK Holiday weekend, U2 performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to celebrate the impending U.S. Presidency of Barack Obama.
One of my alltime favorite U2 stories comes out of U2's outspoken support for the establishment of a national holiday in the USA to honor Dr. King during their Joshua Tree tour.
Bono was especially vocerifous in his support of this idea and soon began to receive anonymous death threats because of it. One night, before a concert in Los Angeles, a threat was received by the band that if they performed the song "PRIDE" then Bono's life was in danger.
True to their beliefs, U2 decided to perform the song that night. While singing the song onstage, a strange spirit overtook Bono and he knelt down at the front of the stage, eyes closed. At that moment, Bono was not sure what would happen to him. When he opened his eyes, he saw Adam standing over him, protecting Bono from any potential threat to his life. This is how Bono recalled the incident:
"Now we get all kinds of racist jibes because we wrote a song for Martin Luther King, or pinko jibes because we did the Amnesty International Tour. Wherever you look we're a target for the loony fringe. So the second night, we're on stage and I'm singing "Pride" thinking 'If someone is going to do it it will be during this number.' So I crouched down on the stage, shut my eyes and for a moment the thought of death crossed my mind. When I looked up I just saw Adam standing over me, between me and the crowd. It was a good, good moment."
Bono's personal relationship with Dr. King's legacy goes back all the way to his childhood. Dr King was one of Bono's earliest heroes and a main influence on his life. Dr King's philosophy of nonviolent resistance to injustice, gleamed from Mohandas Gandhi's ideas, captured Bono's imagination. Growing up in the time of the social turbulence known as "The Troubles" in Ireland, the ideas of nonviolence and compassion toward those who despised you as described by Dr. King greatly molded the person that Bono would become.
BONO AT THE KING CENTER
In January 2004, Bono was invited to The King Center in Atlanta to receive their "Salute to Greatness" Award for his lifelong commitment to Dr. King's Legacy and for his humanitarian activities, especially his advocacy for Africa. I was there that day in Atlanta and spent it following Bono's activities as a contributing reporter at the time for a U2 fansite.
Bono met in the morning with local community HIV/AIDS activists from the Atlanta area and then visited Dr. King's gravesite in the afternoon along with Rep. John Lewis, one of Dr. King's close personal friends and student activist during the Civil Rights Movement. Together, they would lay a big bouquet of white roses at the foot of Dr. King's grave.
Before the actual dinner and award presentation at night, Bono participated in a news conference with Coretta Scott King and otherswho would be present at the Awards ceremony that night. I was privileged to have attended that news conference and I will never forget it.
The closeness between Coretta Scott King and Bono was obvious. They were comfortable in each other's presence. They laughed and enjoyed each other. Coretta called Bono her "son" and Bono exclaimed how good it felt to have a mother again.
It was a TRULY memorable moment that few people got the chance to witness - and I was one of them.
The rest of the day and Bono's amazing speech at the Awards ceremony that evening are chronicled in the link below. It TRULY did feel like "A Sort of Homecoming" for Bono at The King Center that night:
In my next blog entry in two weeks, I'll share some of my ideas of why it's so great to be a U2 "fan". Until then, take good care of each other and please remember the People of Haiti with your prayers....and your pocketbook.
ONLY LOVE, debbie :) firstname.lastname@example.org
This column is part of Edge's blog by Regina O'Numb. The words and pics are by Debbie Kreuser.