Jackson Browne First Artist to Receive Gandhi Peace Award

By Jim Barber 8/5/18 | www.samaritanmag.com

Jackson Brownie promo shot — photo credit: J.B. Facebook
Already a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, noted American singer/songwriter Jackson Browne is being lauded for his commitment to social justice, peace and environmental causes by being the first artist to receive the Gandhi Peace Award.

The ceremony takes place  Sept. 14. in the United Church on the Green in New Haven, Connecticut and is open to the public, although seating is limited. Reserve tickets here for a suggested donation of at least $10 (USD).

Created by the Promoting Enduring Peace organization in 1960, the Gandhi Peace Award was named after Mohandas (a.k.a. Mahatma) Gandhi, a proponent of non-violent resistance who helped spearhead the eventual independence of India from Great Britain in the 1940s, and who inspired similar movements throughout the globe, including the U.S. Civil Rights Movement under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., a past recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award.

Other past recipients include Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Benjamin Spock, U Thant, Cesar Chavez and Ralph Nader among many others. Browne is the first artist of any media to be given this distinctive honour. A press release issued by Promoting Enduring Peace said he was selected “for extraordinary contributions of time and talent to the inseparable causes of world peace, environmental harmony and social justice.”

According to the organization presenting the award, it is considered to be one of the most prestigious American peace prizes.

“Recipients are distinguished by having made, over a period of years, a significant contribution to the promotion of an enduring international peace founded on justice, self determination, diversity, compassion and harmony, achieved through co-operative and non-violent means – in the spirit of Gandhi.”

The award comes with a cash prize and a medallion forged from so-called ‘peace bronze’ which is metal salvaged from the control systems of decommissioned American nuclear missiles.

Promoting Enduring Peace was formed in 1952 in the United States to “conduct peace education and citizen diplomacy intended to counteract the forces then moving the world towards a global thermonuclear cataclysm.”

For the entirety of his nearly 50-year career as a singer, songwriter and performer, Browne has imbued many of his songs with the commentaries and ideas relating to environmental and conservation issues, human rights, politics and world peace. Now, 69, he has released 14 studio albums, including his most recent, 2014’s Standing in the Breach. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 by Bruce Springsteen, and in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007.

He has an impressive discography of single and album hits, including the songs “Doctor My Eyes,” “Running on Empty,” “Boulevard,” “Somebody’s Baby” and “Lawyers in Love.” He also co-wrote the song “Take it Easy” for The Eagles. Browne has never shied away from used his talent and public profile to promote different humanitarian causes.

He has been an ardent social justice and environmental advocate and activist since the late 1970s. He first became involved in the anti-nuclear movement, including co-founding Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) in 1979 and performed at five No Nukes concert at New York's Madison Square Garden.  He was arrested a year later during a protest against the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in California. Thirty-two years later, he performed another No Nukes show at Shoreline Ampitheater in Mountain View, California.

More recently he became a founding member of Plastic Pollution Coalition and became an advocate for the REFUSE Disposable Plastics Campaign and has taken steps to eliminate the use of plastic bottles on his tours as part of the Plastic Free Backstage movement.

He has used his time and talent to perform at various special benefit concerts, including Farm Aid, Amnesty International’s Conspiracy of Hope Tour, as well as participating in fundraisers for the Pediatric AIDs Foundation, the Children’s Defense Fund, ALS Association Greater Los Angeles, Rory David Deutsch Foundation (brain tumor research and treatment), Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit Concert, The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding, Rock for Oklahoma (for tornado victims), and many more.

He has also endorsed and/or performed shows for various progressive American political candidates, such as Ralph Nader, John Kerry, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

The Gandhi Peace Award is the latest of many similar accolades, including the John Steinbeck Award, for artists who exemplify the environmental and social values that the famous author believed in, which he garnered in 2002.

Last year, during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Browne was among the “leading cultural icons” awarded at the Bovet 1822 Artists for Peace and Justice Gala “for their lifetime of service,” while raising funds for APJ’s community development work in Haiti.

According to his official biography he was named an honorary Doctor of Music by Occidental College in Los Angeles in 2004 for combining his music with social justice, and Courage of Conscience Awards from The Peace Abbey in Massachusetts that same year.

In December of 2017, Browne wrote, recorded and released the single "The Dreamer" to highlight the plight of the so-called ‘Dreamers’ who were protected under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which was under attack at the time by the Trump administration.

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