The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been recognizing cannabis legalization advocates from about the nation given that 1998, as element of their National Conference and Lobby Day in Washington DC.
The Michael J Kennedy Social Justice Award, now in its third year, is element of that tradition.
Named right after legendary civil rights and criminal defense attorney Michael Kennedy, who served as common counsel to Higher Occasions from its founding in 1974 till his death in early 2016, the award was established by NORML with the blessing of Kennedy’s wife, Eleanora, and their daughter Anna.
For these who might not have recognized Kennedy, chairman of Higher Occasions for numerous years, his daughter Anna introduced him with a quick film about his, Higher Times’, and NORML’s enduring struggle to legalize cannabis.
In her welcome speech, Eleanora Kennedy told the packed conference hall that her husband had been devoted to NORML and its mission for decades.
“We want to honor these folks who, like Michael, are functioning for the legalization of cannabis and advancing the lead to of social justice in America,” Kennedy mentioned.
Therefore, this year’s option for the Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award was completely acceptable: Bernardine Dohrn, activist, academic, children’s and women’s rights advocate, and former professor at Northwestern University College of Law.
As a national leader of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Climate Underground, Dohrn landed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List from 1970 to 1973 for her common “radical activities.”
Enter Michael Kennedy
Dohrn, who met the Kennedys through the turbulent 1960s, told the NORML audience that Michael Kennedy gave the word “defiant” a new which means.
“Kennedy was totally committed to his customers, and totally contemptuous of the apparatus and trappings of the state when he was in pursuit of justice,” Dohrn mentioned.
Kennedy’s client list integrated some of the most higher profile criminal and civil-rights situations in the second half of the 20th century. He represented LSD guru, Timothy Leary, the Brotherhood of Eternal Adore, numerous anti-war and absolutely free speech activists amongst the Chicago Seven, Black Panther Celebration co-founder, Huey Newton, and Native American protesters in 1973 at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
He also kept Higher Times’ founder, Tom Forçade, out of prison on drug-smuggling charges.
“Tom Forçade after famously mentioned there are only two types of smugglers: these who will need a forklift, and these who do not. Clearly Forçade required the forklift, and he required Michael Kennedy to keep out of jail,” Keith Stroup, a close pal of each guys and the founder of NORML, mentioned.
“I’m not positive NORML would have created it all these years with no Michael Kennedy, in addition to some substantially-required monetary assistance that came from the bales of weed Tom [Forçade] flew into Miami,” Stroup told Higher Occasions.
Tom Forçade passed away in November 1978.
Stroup noted that Kennedy and Higher Occasions remained accurate to Forcade’s want to often assistance NORML, creating the magazine the single biggest monetary supporter in the organization’s practically 50-year history.
“In additional current occasions, as we started to enact legalization measures in additional and additional states, Kennedy was 1 of the strongest voices reminding absolutely everyone that we have to not neglect these who are nevertheless in prison on marijuana charges,” Stroup mentioned.
Enter Guitarist Tom Morello
Eleanora Kennedy introduced Tom Morello, co-founder of Rage against the Machine, Audioslave and Prophets of Rage, as living proof of the transformative energy of rock & roll.
“Tom has continually pushed the limits of what 1 man can do with six strings,” she mentioned.
Morello does not dispute that. “Music is political, either supporting the status quo or difficult it.”
Asked by NORML to introduce his close pal Bernardine Dohrn, Morello referred to as her “an just about mythical hero of my youth” who influenced his political consciousness for years to come.
Judging from the crowd’s reaction to Dohrn, Morello was not the only 1 who felt that way about the lady he referred to as “an unapologetic warrior for social justice.”
“Less speak, additional rock.”
“Bernardine Dohrn is punk rock as hell. And the Days of Rage? Exactly where do you consider my band got its fucking name?” Morello mentioned.
He mentioned that at the core of Dohrn’s lifetime of operate “is the unshakeable notion that absolutely everyone, just about every underdog, deserves to be capable to turn out to be the particular person they have been meant to be.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lately named Morello 2020 Ambassador for their Campaign for Wise Justice, which aims to reduce the U.S. prison population in half.
“The subsequent Mozart may possibly be slaving away in a maquiladora [sweat shop] , or the particular person who has the remedy for cancer locked in their head may possibly be locked up for weed possession in Alabama,” Morello told conference attendees, numerous of whom have been currently up on their feet.“And now I would like to play a rousing song for all these good persons,” Morello mentioned, then belted out a ferocious version of Flesh Shapes the Day.