Bono to receive Philadelphia Liberty Medal


PHILADELPHIA -- Bono, who has helped bring worldwide attention to medical and economic problems in Africa, will receive this year's Liberty Medal.

The National Constitution Center's annual award honors an individual or organization that has "demonstrated leadership and vision in the pursuit of liberty of conscience or freedom from oppression, ignorance or deprivation."

Bono and the organization he co-founded -- DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) -- will receive the medal at a ceremony on Sept. 27

The medal comes with a $100,000 prize, which will be donated to Washington-based DATA.

Though Bono holds no elected office, he proves that "the office of citizen is the most important in the world," Constitution Center President and CEO Joseph Torsella said Thursday.

The 47-year-old frontman for Irish band U2 co-founded DATA in 2002 to work with religious groups on global disease and hunger issues. In 2005, U2 was a headliner in the Live 8 concerts, which were held to raise awareness about African poverty and pressure world leaders to cancel debt for the poorest African nations.

Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, didn't attend Thursday's announcement. In a statement, he noted that Philadelphia is where DATA and other groups launched the ONE campaign, in which 2.4 million Americans have pledged to help eradicate AIDS and poverty worldwide.

"I don't suppose there are enough Liberty Medals to go around, but in truth, those people should all be wearing one, too," he said.

Last year, former Presidents Clinton and George H.W. Bush won the medal for putting politics aside to help raise more than $1 billion for disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia.

The medal was first awarded in 1989, and six recipients have subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The National Constitution Center, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents.