Picture this: It’s 1988 and you’re standing in the middle of a packed stadium watching some of the greatest artists perform live on stage. Music is blaring from the speakers, you are having the time of your life, and you’ve received an education. You now know more that you did about the human rights violations happening across the globe and have made a pledge to be part of a new movement that strives to bring awareness and change. Hell of a concert, right? This was part of the mission of the Human Rights Concerts.
The Human Rights Now! Concert Tour was a six-week, five continent, fifteen nation, twenty-concert tour around the globe in 1988. This benefit concert series increased awareness of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the 40th anniversary was in 1988) and the work of a renowned international organization focused on human rights.. The tour was stacked with famous artists and bands you could only dream of seeing once let alone performing together. And what made it all possible was a grant from the Reebok Foundation.
Credit: Reebok Archive
As part of Reebok’s commitment to stand United Against Racism and in celebration of the return of Reebok’s Human Rights Awards, Reebok is re-releasing the Human Rights Now! Collection
. It is a bring back collection of tour merch graphics and 1-for-1 pieces from the archive from the 1988 concert series. “Reebok and concert organizers agreed that the human rights message was (and remains) greater than a branding opportunity,” says head of the Reebok Archive and lead of the Human Rights Commitment 2020-2021, Erin Narloch. “Advertisements and merchandise focused more on the compelling message of Human Rights.” This latest collection includes the graphics on footwear with a powerful mantra on the inside tongue label and elevated materials. In connection with the Human Rights Now! collection, Reebok will donate $270,000 to RISE, a non-profit organization that educates and empowers the sports community to battle discrimination and champion social justice.
Reebok and concert organizers agreed that the human rights message was (and remains) greater than a branding opportunity.
For Carmen Hardaway, Director of Product of Human Rights Now! at Reebok, the Human Rights Now! Collection is just the beginning of a larger commitment by the brand. “This collection is special,” she says. “It speaks to who we are as a brand…a brand with a soul. A brand that stands up for and supports the rights of communities that have been marginalized for far too long. While we can say we are that all day long, we are actually showing that we are. We are showing it through the stories we tell through our Human Rights Now! product collection as well as our $10 million dollar commitment to the Black & Brown communities.”
The Human Rights Now! Concert Tour was focused on youth and traveling to countries that may have not normally seen a concert of that magnitude. The series went beyond just raising funds and bringing awareness to human rights violations. Human rights activists and former prisoners participated, and press conferences were held before the concerts. At the time, they were specifically calling out for investigations into people being forced to flee their countries due to human rights violations and running campaigns against torture and political killings. Reebok was honored to help put a spotlight on these issues.
Credit: Reebok Archive
Hardaway says the re-release of the Human Rights Now! Collection is a statement that she hopes permeates future evolutions of the collection in a meaningful and thoughtful way. “We hope to also bring in partners of color to help us design, story tell and bring more awareness to human rights issues that these communities face,” she says. “As a Black woman that has been with this brand and in the industry for over 20 years, this collection symbolizes action. We are putting our money where our mouth is and not only standing in solidarity with the Black and Brown community, but showing just that with the commitment we’ve made with the Human Rights Now! Collection. My hope is that the consumer sees this, feels it, and supports this and grows with us.”
As a Black woman that has been with this brand and in the industry for over 20 years, this collection symbolizes action.
Advocacy around human rights and speaking up for others is just as crucial now as it was then. We live in a time where people are still not treated equally and not everyone is afforded the same rights and fundamental freedoms. Without those willing to speak up and take action nothing moves forward. The re-release of Human Rights Now! Collection
is a great reminder of an important moment in time where people were coming together for a common cause and why we need to keep going.
“It’s a collection that is greater than the sum of its parts,” says Narloch. “Human Rights reaches beyond geographies, nationalities, political affiliations, languages, and personal beliefs – it is the birth right of all humans globally. If we believe in Human Rights, respect of our differences, nuances, and agency – we will be part of a more just society, globally – and in order to do that, we must support and uphold those doing the work to ensure these rights are upheld. No small task, but we’re here for it.”
While some voices may be drowned out in a world full of problems, the actions towards making the world a better place are how we keep the importance of the message alive. The fight for human rights around the globe continues to be a long hard-fought battle, but it will be worth it.