Medea Benjamin, one of the cofounders of CODEPINK and the international human rights organization Global Exchange will give the keynote lecture at this year's second annual Jane Addams's Birthday Conversation on Peace and Justice.
Described as "one of America's most committed -- and most effective -- fighters for human rights" by New York Newsday, and called "one of the high profile leaders of the peace movement" by the Los Angeles Times, Medea has distinguished herself as an eloquent and energetic figure in the progressive movement.
No stranger to controversy, she is considered one of the main architects of the riots and demonstrations during the World Trade Organization Meetings in Seattle in 1999. More recently, Ms. Benjamin was “pied in the face" at the US Social Forum in Atlanta in July 2007, by a group called Bakers Without Borders. This guerilla action group demanded accountability from Benjamin, who they claim is the “self-appointed spokesperson of the left, and whose actions further the commodification of resistance and sabotage the movement's sustainability and credibility.”
Since the September 11, 2001 tragedy, Medea has been working to promote a U.S. foreign policy that would respect human rights and gain us allies instead of contributing to violence and undermining our international reputation. In 2000, she was a Green Party candidate for the California Senate. During the 1990s, Medea focused her efforts on tackling the problem of unfair trade as promoted by the World Trade Organization. Widely credited as the woman who brought Nike to its knees and helped place the issue of sweatshops on the national agenda, Medea was a key player in the campaign that won a $20 million settlement from 27 US clothing retailers for the use of sweatshop labor in Saipan. She also pushed Starbucks and other companies to start carrying fair trade coffee. A former economist and nutritionist with the United Nations and World Health Organization, Benjamin is the author/editor of eight books.
Recorded Thursday, September 06, 2007 at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.