Bono’s Georgetown speech on social activism uplifts and inspires

ONE Co-founder Bono gave a powerful speech on activism and global social movements to a crowd of 700 students at Georgetown University last night. His nearly hour-long speech received a standing ovation and praise on Twitter and Facebook. Many students walked away feeling inspired and uplifted.

“Best speech ever,” one student remarked as he left the building. “This is going to be all over YouTube tomorrow,” another said.

The event, hosted by the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Businesskicks off Bono’s week of meetings with US bipartisan congressional lawmakers and senior Obama officials to stress the effectiveness of US foreign assistance programs.

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Click on the image to watch the full speech

Bono joked about taking on the role of “professor” for the evening, calling his speech “Pop Cultural Studies 101.”

“Today, we’re gonna discuss why rock stars should never, ever be given the microphone at institutions of higher learning,” he said.

Bono spent the next hour proving that statement wrong. He began his speech talking about the “biggest obstacle in the world”: extreme poverty. He then talked about the incredible ability for social movements to make real change, citing the Arab Spring and social media, and touched upon the work that ONE does in the fight against extreme poverty. Technology, especially the “Afro-nerds” in Africa, are helping to speed things up and increase transparency, reducing corruption and poverty.

He warned students of the looming fiscal cliff and encouraged them to take action (which you can do at the bottom of this blog post) to protect our US international affairs budget, which funds life-saving programs for AIDS, hunger and preventable disease. “We must not let this economic recession become a moral recession. that would be double cruelty,” he said of the potential cuts.

He also said that extreme poverty is not a “right-left” issue… it’s a “right-wrong” issue, and noted that presidents from both sides of the aisles have made great strides in reducing poverty around the world, praising Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Bono ended his speech with a call on Georgetown students and activists around the globe to lift up their voice for the world’s poorest people. “The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power,” he said.

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Bank of America CEO and President Brian Moynihan, Senator Norm Coleman, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Patrick Leahy and USAID Administrator Raj Shah were also in attendance.

The speech was broadcast in a live webcast and live-tweeted on @ONECampaign, allowing Bono fans and ONE members from around the world to join in on the conversation. Here’s a transcript of some of the tweets and quotes from Bono at the event:

What did you think of the speech? Tell us in the comments below.