On The Avenue

Ripple in Still Water

by Lee Fryd Photographed by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Ripple Of Hope Awards
Thursday, December 14, 2017

“How about last night!” Kerry Kennedy asked the audience at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Ripple of Hope Awards Dinner, the day after Roy Moore’s shocking defeat. “We are so happy that people in Alabama voted for dignity over despair. Last night, Sisyphus moved that boulder up the hill and over the top.” It was no wonder that The promise and symbolism of the Alabama election results reverberated through the New York Hilton on Wednesday night.

Helmed by Kerry, a human rights activist and lawyer, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights works with litigators, business leaders and local activists to fight for social justice all over the world. “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,” Robert said in Cape Town, in 1966. “Those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

The evening was emceed by Alec Baldwin, and was hosted by Ethel Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Tim Cook, Philip W. Johnston, B. Scott Minerd, Marvin S. Rosen, Robert & Hope Smith, Pedro Torres-Mackie and Donato Tramuto.

Ethel, too frail to take the podium, presided over a long middle table filled with celebrities and Kennedy progeny, talking with lifetime friend and honoree Harry Belafonte.

“Bobby gave so much of himself and was such a great promise of what America was to be,” Belafonte told the room. “That promise is still in the distance and but we can make it. The greater reward that Bobby left us all is not just the memory that he gave us so much, but in his family Kerry, and my darling Ethel. You still carry on and we have each other.”

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky and Chobani Founder Hamdi Ulukaya were also honored. 

In their own ways, all of them were committed to creating the society that RFK had envisioned so many years ago. “Robert F Kennedy has been a factor in my awakening as an activist,” actress Alfre Woodard said, echoing the sentiments of so many in the room. “I was called to action by him, basically, when I was twelve.

“We need ripples, ripples, ripples of hope,” she continued. “Hope is an active word. You can’t just sit in your head and dream and hope. Hope calls us to action to put our hope into deeds. And that’s where the change happens. That’s the beauty of those ripples coming ashore: in every household, every community, every country, with no borders, around the world.”

Other guests included Hilaria Baldwin, Tony Bennett, Kenneth Cole & Maria Cuomo Cole, Thomas DiNapoli, Kathryn Erbe, D’Brickshaw Ferguson, Peter Frampton, Pamela Frank, Patricia Duff, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Lasse Hallström, Mohamed Hassanein, Pedro Hernandez, Aya Hijazi, Maria Hinojosa, Philip W. Johnston, Van Jones, Catherine Keener, Keegan-Michael Key, Cindi Leive, Tony Lo Bianco, Patrick Kennedy, Rory Kennedy, Ali Wertheimer Khaliah, Chris & Kathleen Matthews, Eloy Mendez, Paola Mendoza, Denise Nappier, Lena Olin, Dan Olofsson, Michael Posner, Grace Raymond, Malika Saada Saar, Jean Shafiroff, Gloria Steinem, Maria Theofili, Peggy Wallace Kennedy and Louise Vongerichten.


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