Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

Here’s our toast to freedom,
To human rights and dignity,
Love, respect and forgiveness,
United in the dream for victory.”

Toast to Freedom is a music video dedicated to human rights activism around the world. Nearly 50 artists contributed to the video, celebrating Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary. The basic tracks for Toast to Freedom were recorded at the legendary Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y. One of the last studio recordings by the late Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Levon Helm, it was also one of the closest to his heart.

The song continues a long relationship between Amnesty International and the creative community, which has helped spread the word of its mission almost from the start in 1961. Artists contributing to Toast to Freedom included: Levon Helm, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Angelique Kidjo, Ewan McGregor, Saul Hernandez, Donald Fagen, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Eric Burdon, Taj Mahal, Florent Pagny, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Birkin, Jimmy Barnes, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Mullins, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Gentleman, among others.

Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

The Making of “Toast to Freedom”

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

Toast to Freedom (Long Version)

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel Leads Chicago’s 42nd Annual Gay Pride Parade

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Leads Chicago’s 42nd Annual Gay Pride Parade

The 42nd Annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade kicked off from the northside Lakeview neighborhood at noon on Sunday, led by Chicago’s new mayor, Rahm Emanuel. It was the first time in a long time that a sitting mayor has appeared in the parade, a salute to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. An animated Rahm Emanuel marched directly behind the parade’s lead banner and platoon of police on horseback. Dressed casually in a light blue shirt, white jeans, tennis shoes and black shades, Emanuel brought the crowd to a roar as he stopped to high-five a little girl and hoisted a young boy over the metal barricade for a peck on the cheek.

Emanuel is a regular at the parade, having appeared at the festivities almost every year while he served in Congress. He has been a relentless advocate of gay causes, including HIV/AIDS funding, civil unions and gay marriage. Joining him in the parade was Governor Pat Quinn, who recently signed the Illinois civil union legislation, as Illinois became the sixth state to allow civil unions or their equivalent, giving same-sex couples the same state-level rights that come with marriage.

The parade usually draws around a half-million celebrants, but coming right on the heels of winning the long-sought right for same-sex couples to enter into civil unions and the historic passage of the New York bill allowing same sex marriage Friday night, this parade swelled to an estimated attendance of 750,000, which was likely a record number of rainbow-clad spectators.

Viewers can read a short history of the gay rights movement in Illinois here.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Leads The 42nd Annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade

Chicago’s 2010 Gay Pride Parade

The Chicago Gay Pride Parade Celebration

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Photo of the Day: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Jess, Bend, Oregon, 2009

Photography by:  Jeff Sheng, Los Angeles

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Jess, Bend, Oregon, 2009 is a photograph by the award-winning Los Angeles photographer Jeff Sheng.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is his new photography project, which consists of a series of photographs of closeted men and women in the United States military. The photographs represent Sheng’s interest in the intersections between public and private spaces, and the government’s ever-intrusive policing of our most private spaces.

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Human Rights: Respect Others, Respect Individuality

Human Rights: Respect Others, Respect Individuality

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This 2-minute short film is an emotionally moving reminder that there is so much still to be done in order to protect the civil rights of all. Respect others, respect individuality.

Human Rights: Respect Others, Respect Individuality

(Best Viewed Full-Screen)

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Cabalerno: And It’s All Right

Cabalerno: And It’s All Right

Cabalerno is a documentary-style short film shot in a Latino neighborhood of New York City.  The film was an official selection in 2007 at film festivals in the United States and around the world (including film festivals in Australia, Barcelona, Brazil, Canada and Germany).   In the United States, Cabalerno was an official selection at the Provincetown International Film Festival, The New York Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, The International Latino Film Festival (San Francisco) and others.   Cabalerno was the winner of The Best Short Film for Season Two, on LOGO Television.

Cabalerno reveals the unspoken suffering of a withdrawn and awkward Latino young teenager, who appears to be attempting to begin coming to terms with some of his uncomfortable erotic attractions to others.  The younger teen gets caught pointing his video camera at an older, handsome and muscular skateboarder on New York’s Lower East Side, with whom he is infatuated.   Confronted with his video filming by the older teenager, he suffers both embarrassment and fears of possible public humiliation.  However, after an initial awkwardness, the two fellows must cope with their unanticipated, seemingly dissonant feelings.

I’m Looking at You,
Looking at Me,
Looking at You,
And it’s all right
.”

Cabalerno: And It’s All Right

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All Kids Have Rights

All Children Have Human Rights

The United Nations’ 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first legally binding international law to incorporate the full range of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Built on a variety of legal systems and cultural traditions, the Convention is a universally agreed upon set of non-negotiable standards and obligations. These basic standards set minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be respected by governments. They are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each individual, regardless of race, color, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability and therefore apply to every human being everywhere.

With these rights comes the obligation on both governments and individuals not to infringe on the parallel rights of others. These standards are both interdependent and indivisible; some rights cannot be ensured without, or at the expense of, other rights. Its implementation is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. National governments that ratify it commit themselves to protecting and ensuring children’s rights, and agree to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child, along with international criminal accountability mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court, the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, is said to have significantly increased the profile of children’s rights worldwide.

The United States is one of only two countries in the world which have refused to ratify The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.

All Kids Have Rights

All Children Have Rights

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