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The Good Fight

By Thomas Connors

Photo by Ungano & Agriodimas/Getty​ Images

12.21.17

Kerry Kennedy’s Speak Truth to Power celebrates the world’s social justice warriors.

“MY FATHER TAUGHT all of us to keep every issue close to our heart, to take stock of all that needs to be done and to find a way to do it,” says Kerry Kennedy. The daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, she’s certainly made an effort to make her father proud. A lawyer by training, she has served numerous humanitarian organizations, including Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, where she developed Speak Truth to Power, a multipronged project aimed at educating students on issues of social justice. Comprising a book, a play by Ariel Dorfman and a photo exhibition—on view at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie Feb. 4 to June 24—Kennedy’s deeply felt initiative honors men and women around the world who have taken great risks to challenge injustice.

While many of the subjects captured by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams are world-renowned (Elie Wiesel, the Dalai Lama), others, notes Kennedy, “are just regular people whose daily lives were made political by repression and restriction on what they could say, or do, or think.”

The 48 individuals portrayed in Speak Truth to Power have fought for a range of concerns, from nuclear disarmament to religious self-determination. “A lot of these people, they’ve seen things no one should have to see; endured things no one should have to endure,” says Kennedy, who will speak at the opening. “Yet they don’t quit. The abuse and the isolation and the struggle bind them even closer to their cause, and through that they become leaders who have unbreakable spirits.

Anytime you put the spirit of a human-rights defender against the oppression of a regime, the regime will crack first. We see that from history, and we live it in these defenders today.” Opening presentation Feb. 4, 1pm, free with $15 museum admission, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie