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"The emotions that are on this record are very abstract, out of focus, fragmented, its words are gray. But that is exactlywhat it should be."

-- Bono, on War

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Rock Star Named Class Day Speaker

U2 lead singer Bono will offer advice to graduating seniors

The Crimson (Harvard student newspaper), February 02, 2001
By: By Justin D. Gest

 

The Senior Class Committee has landed "the sweetest thing" as their Class Day speaker -- Bono, the lead singer of the popular Irish rock group U2.

First Class Marshal Amma Y. "Yo' Mama" Ghartey-Tagoe '01 announced the selection in front of the Science Center yesterday to a crowd of seniors.

"Our choice has used his fame to help people throughout the world," Ghartey-Tagoe teased the crowd before revealing the speaker's identity. "He is the epitome of cool, and he is very instrumental in what he does best."

Ghartey-Tagoe credited an unusual connection with bringing the legendary rock star to campus: Stone Professor of International Trade Jeffrey D. Sachs '76, who worked with the singer on a debt relief campaign for Third World countries.

"He's a remarkable person, and his persuasive charm, talents, and moral commitment helped to convince Presidents and Prime Ministers and key legislators around the world to support debt cancellation, a process which is now underway for a couple of dozen of the world's poorest countries. He's also an amazing musical talent," Sachs wrote in an e-mail.

"Professor Sachs cared so much," Ghartey-Tagoe said. "It's going to be such an awesome and phenomenal graduation."

Bono follows in the footsteps of last year's unconventional selection -- former Lampoon president and late-night comic Conan C. O'Brien '85.

Other past speakers have included home-run king Hank Aaron, musician Quincy Jones, former senator Alan K. Simpson and news anchor Tom Brokaw.

The announcement that Bono will be the featured speaker on Class Day, June 6, comes after more than three months of discussions by the Class Day speaker committee.

The band will be in Boston in early June for concerts at the Fleet Center as part of its current Elevation Tour 2001. The group has been performing since 1977.

Bono -- whose real name is Paul Hewton [sic] -- was born in Dublin and was ostracized as a child, partially due to his mixed Catholic and Protestant background.

His rise to fame began when he saw drummer Larry Mullen's ad on a high school bulletin board. Together with Dave "the Edge" Evans and Adam Clayton, they formed one of the most prolific rock bands in history.

Their repertoire includes hits such as "The Sweetest Thing," "With or Without You," "New Year's Day," "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)."

Their most recent album is entitled All That You Can't Leave Behind and features the hit song "Beautiful Day."

Bono has been involved in the fight for human rights worldwide, and has met with leader including Pope John Paul II and former President Bill Clinton to discuss such issues.

"He's not just cool -- he is going to inspire us," Class Marshal Xunhua Wong '01 said of Bono.

Ghartey-Tagoe said that the committee has contacted Sachs about the possibility of getting concert series, but that she does not really consider the possibility feasible at this point, with the concerts technically sold out.

Nevertheless, she said she sees the pick as a success.

"All those people will be sitting in the Fleet Center in the way back, and all our people will have the pleasure of sitting in the front and interacting with Bono in the last days of our Harvard careers," she said.

The Senior Class Committee is comprised of house representatives and marshals, and has a subcommittee responsible for the planning of Class Day.

© The Crimson, 2001. All rights reserved.



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