On Sunday, May 17, we will be hosting a very special Ráday Salon event.
Some of you will surely remember having met our friend Fred Branfman at previous Salons. He was an American human rights activist who had been living in Budapest for many years with his wife Zsuzsa Beres, and he often joined our events, always engaging in conversation with folks long after the main program was over. To our great sadness, Fred passed away in September 2014, and together with Zsuzsa, we have put together this Salon to celebrate, remember, and learn from Fred.
Fred’s interests spanned a broad spectrum, combining a fervent commitment to human rights and justice, as well as an influential political career, with an equally powerful concern for spiritual and ethical matters. He was also a modest person, passionate about his subjects but not given to self-promotion, so many of you who met him here may not have known all about his history. Through this event, we aim to celebrate his life, as well as perhaps to introduce him to some of you through his work. The program will include two videos, starting with a short clip in which Fred talks briefly of his own experiences bearing witness to war and human rights abuses, and seeing them in the context of the exercise of strength by a powerful government. The second video is of one of Fred’s last public presentations, given at the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Community College in March of 2014, on the “Modern U.S. Executive Secret War”. We will, of course, follow the films with discussion.
There will be material available at the Salon for our guests to read and learn more about Fred’s life and work, but we also encourage you to check out the following links for more background and information:
- An inconvenient truth -- a brief obituary published in the Economist
- Celebrating the life of peace hero Fred Branfman -- a fuller tribute to Fred, published in Counterpunch, which provides more detail on his anti-war activism and his central role in exposing the U.S. secret war in Laos in the late 1960s-early 1970s
- Stories by Fred Branfman -- Alternet’s page of links to selected articles written by Fred in Alternet and elsewhere
- Fred’s website Truly Alive (www.trulyalive.org) -- after years of political activism, Fred turned his attention to the spiritual, and believed strongly that a “life-affirming death awareness” had the power not only to transform individual lives, but to bring the world closer to peace and justice. His website sets forth this concept and provides a wealth of materials to encourage people to explore this theme further.