Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A good reason to wish I still lived in Dallas

Bono's speaking tour will bring him to Dallas
Rocker scheduled to discuss global AIDS, poverty at May 5 event
By COLLEEN McCAIN NELSON / The Dallas Morning News

Bono is making a surprise return to Dallas. But the U2 frontman is bringing a message – not his music – to town. Bono, a Nobel Prize nominee, has been credited with helping persuade the U.S. to increase funding to fight AIDS in Africa.

The World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth today will unveil plans for "Bono Speaks Live." The Irish rocker is scheduled to appear May 5 at Dallas' Fair Park Music Hall to discuss the fight against global AIDS and poverty in Africa. Bono, one of rock's most celebrated superstars, has increasingly turned his attention to humanitarian efforts. Now, the Grammy winner divides his time between meetings with world leaders and world tours with his band.

He co-founded DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) to raise awareness of the crises in Africa and to pressure wealthy governments to help. And while plenty of celebrities have taken on causes, Bono has proved to be an informed and effective lobbyist. He has impressed politicians with his knowledge of arcane congressional procedures and has reached out to leaders across the political spectrum. He has won praise from President Bush and has traveled to Africa with then-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.

"He's obviously someone who is not just doing this on a whim. It's a deep, deep commitment," said Jim Falk, president of the World Affairs Council. "Leaders recognize that this is a man who has done his homework and truly is committed." Bono, a Nobel Prize nominee and former Time magazine Person of the Year, has been credited with helping to persuade Mr. Bush to increase funding to fight AIDS in Africa.

Mr. Falk said he made it his goal to bring Bono to North Texas after reading his writing on poverty. But initially, the World Affairs Council's invitation was rejected. "He gets thousands of requests," Mr. Falk said. "The first few tries, they said no. We kept persevering." Several months later, Bono agreed to speak in Dallas.

"Texas is important politically," Mr. Falk said. "He wants to reach a diverse and strong audience." Mr. Falk said that while his organization has brought many compelling speakers to the area, Bono's speech would be special. "He is a singular celebrity," Mr. Falk said. "There is nobody like him."