U2 frontman Bono was honored for his humanitarian work on Saturday (January 17) by the widow of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Coretta Scott King saluted Bono at the 2004 King Center Salute To Greatness awards in Atlanta, for his work on behalf of the AIDS epidemic in Africa and for Third World debt relief.
At the event, Bono became emotional as he discussed the impact Dr. King had on him growing up in Ireland during that country’s civil war, according to the Associated Press. He said, “We despaired for the lack of vision of the kind Dr. King gave to people in the South,” and added that he wrote the 1984 hit “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” based on King’s teachings. Bono also said, “When Dr. King spoke about having a dream, he wasn’t just talking about an American dream. It can be an African dream, an Irish dream. That’s why I’m excited to be here.”
In a statement, Mrs. King said, “We are fortunate this year to honor Bono for exemplifying many of the qualities that my husband, Martin, indicated were imperative to moving our society into the beloved community of which he so often spoke…He has focused mass public attention on the world’s poorest continent and lobbied politicians around the globe to take action.”
Bono also spoke about his activism, when he told the audience, “AIDS is not a cause, it’s an emergency. Seven thousand Africans die every day. This is an entire country bursting into flames.” He said he’s gotten encouraging phone calls from artists including Jay Z, P. Diddy, and Beyonce Knowles, but added, “I’m looking forward to the moment they tell me, ‘Bono, you’re Irish. Go home. We’ve got it handled.'”