“After we had been working on debt relief for several months in 1999, a cover of the New York Times Magazine came out showing people in Africa raising their fists toward a U.S. warplane. Congressman John Kasich asked if I had seen the cover. He said it made him furious because those people only saw America’s warplane—we needed to show them something different about American character.
“When John said that, I knew we were going to get the funds needed for debt relief. He was mad enough to persuade his colleagues that it was not the American way to hold debts over people’s heads for decades when they could not even feed themselves or receive basic medical care. With John’s leadership, Congress voted the money in 2000.
“After a meeting one day in 2003, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist leaned over and said, ‘Bobby, you know I don’t hear much about debt relief at the pig-roasts.’ I knew he was right! Voters did not feel debt relief or AIDS in Africa were local (‘pig-roast’) issues. I knew we had to get our ideas to the pig-roast. That was the beginning of the ONE campaign to reach the church groups, soccer moms, and the heart of America at local events.”
Bono and Bobby Shriver founded DATA in 2002 to expand their successful debt relief work. DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) calls on the governments of the world’s wealthiest nations to keep their existing commitments to Africa and adopt new trade and AIDS policies that will enable Africans to put themselves on the path to long-term prosperity and stability.
In 2007 DATA combined with the ONE Campaign, which continues to build on its grassroots movement of 2.4 million Americans calling for the U.S. to play a leading role in helping Africans fight AIDS and extreme poverty. The ONE Campaign seeks to raise public awareness about these crises and the successful efforts to fight them.