It was a day not much different from an Autumn day in Zurich. Partly sunny, mostly cloudy, and subdued.
But, for me, it was different. It was a defining moment. I had spent the previous few weeks working with the Save Darfur Coalition to prepare for Mia Farrow‘s return to the United States from her tour through eastern Chad–mere kilometers from the border of the Sudan. The United Nations, heads of state (including the then-president of the United States) and foreign affairs thought leaders were willing to acknowledge publicly and repeatedly that atrocities were occurring in the Sudan, but they weren’t ready to call it a “genocide”. Doing so would require action, involvement, and international coordination to secure the political, financial and military resources to implement a peacekeeping program there.
[The press conference starts some 50 seconds into the clip. The press conference is about an hour long. ]
After Mia Farrow had shown some badly damaged household items and shared a video and some photographs from her trip there, she answered questions to a rush of reporters and remained poised for the cameras too. Then, I had to whisk her off with a cab to several studios: BBC News wanted to interview her, so did NPR and Voice of America.
We chatted in the cab rides from one studio to another. And in one she started to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine” while breaking into a bar of dark chocolate. I was so moved and speechless, I couldn’t even hum along–because I thought I might break down into tears right then and there. (We were handling a lot of graphic images and talking about some horrific events. It was an emotional day.)
That autumn day in 2006 remains as fresh in my memory as though it happened just yesterday. It’s as if the few weeks prior: writing up the press release (click here: 11.20.06 – Press Release, Farrow), organizing my list of media contacts, securing the space at the National Press Club and working with the talented and energetic Save Darfur team, had existed solely for the purpose of building up to one eye-opening moment.
She ended up making the above video less than four years later.