Some people question whether celebrity activism makes a difference. On Sunday, NBC’s Dateline aired “Goals for Chad: Safety and Hope,” Ann Curry’s and George Clooney’s report from eastern Chad about displaced Darfuris. Yesterday, President Obama appointed Major General J. Scott Gration as the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan, and it’s in no small part thanks to the sustained effort of activists—like Clooney—who urged the administration to make this appointment quickly.
In the end, what matters is that strong action is taken now to end the crisis in Darfur. In this crucial moment, when millions of lives are hanging in the balance, a wide variety of sustained and coordinated—but also creative—kinds of activism are needed to deliver a clear message to our leaders. On last Sunday’s Dateline program, George Clooney succeeded (with Curry’s support) as an activist because he drove home two important messages on the crises in Darfur and eastern Chad to millions of Americans:
- First, Clooney delivered his “policy ask,” which was for the Obama administration to appoint a high-level, full-time special envoy that reports to the President to, as Clooney said himself, “work hard, every day,” for peace in Darfur and throughout Sudan.
- Second, he gave people here in the U.S. and around the world who were watching Dateline a reason to hope for a resolution to the conflict in Darfur, because he highlighted the incredible hope, perseverance, and courage of Darfuri refugees who refuse to give up and who continue to endure enormous hardships.
Everyone knows that hope is not enough. Words are not enough. Taking action and raising one’s own voice are what count. The Darfur anti-genocide movement has shown that activism matters. And today, as Enough asserted in our latest strategy paper, “the activist movement for peace in Sudan is needed now more than ever.” We all ought to follow Clooney and Curry’s lead and do our part to show the Obama administration that not only have we not lost hope, but we will not be silent. We’re waiting impatiently to see that they are doing everything in their power to fulfill their duty to help end the suffering of millions of Darfuris by devoting substantial resources to a renewed peace effort for Darfur.
WATCH a clip from the Dateline program.