UNITED Tour 2005: A Successful Encore for Human Rights
Award-winning Music Video Reaches Millions of Children Worldwide
August 18, 2005
The UNITED Tour 2005, reached out to millions of children during an international 21-day tour in July and August 2005.
Young Los Angeles filmmaker, Taron Lexton, and his mother, Mary Shuttleworth, founder of Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) circumnavigated the globe to share Lexton’s award-winning music video UNITED with each country that had played a role in its creation and eventual acclaim. Their trip included Mexico, Venezuela, England, Ghana (Africa), India, and Thailand.
In 2004, the duo traveled to 14 different countries to gather footage for UNITED, the human rights music video, which has since taken top awards at some of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, including the New York Film and Video Festival. This year they returned to these same countries with a full human rights curriculum created for YHRI by co-sponsoring organizations, the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International and the Church of Scientology, Los Angeles.
The UNITED music video was put in the hands of dignitaries, officials, community leaders, media, youth groups and students to promote the importance of human rights education focusing on youth leadership and responsibilities.
The UNITED rap music video features original lyrics by rapper Charles Gee and music by Geoff Levin, as well as brief cameos by celebrities - Isaac Hayes, Catherine Bell, Jenna Elfman and Erika Christensen among them. It tells the story of a young boy bullied off a playground who rallies the children of the world with a simple message "if U-N-I-T-E-D a better place this world would be." He captures the support of the children of the world by sending out a fleet of paper airplanes to bring friendship to his embattled playground, and turns a tense confrontation into a new bond for peace. Lexton at age 19 wrote, directed and filmed the entire piece.
Lexton and his mother participated in numerous meetings and conferences in the countries they visited. Press, radio and TV picked up the message and brought UNITED, as well as PSAs based on the video, to millions. As the result of one visit made by the pair to the national TV station of Venezuela, a regular TV program on human rights is now reaching not only the whole of Venezuela, but far across South America.
In Mexico they met with the President of the Commission on Human Rights of the Legislative Assembly. In India the former President of India inaugurated a YHRI Youth Summit. The highlight occurred when "What are Human Rights?" an accompanying education booklet, was released in Hindi (language of India) and Urdu (language of Pakistan). Students from 22 different schools sent paper airplanes to greet a delegation of 15 youth delegates from countries, including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan - all united for human rights.
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand hosted the YHRI UNITED Tour 2005 conference in their country, where the YHRI human rights education action plan was proposed and discussed. Following this, the Human Rights Education Package was presented to the Department of Education for implementation in Thailand’s schools.
In Ghana, the pair were invited to participate in Panafest, an annual gathering of all African nations to advance African culture. The Honorable King of Cape Coast, King Osabarimba, hosted a YHRI Pan-African Youth Summit which was held in the Cape Coast Castle. The 16th century stronghold served as a holding place for men and women to be shipped to foreign countries into slavery. It was a fitting site for the summit which dealt with human rights atrocities of sex trafficking of women and children, one of the world’s most lucrative illicit enterprises today.
The tour added a stop in London, England, for an Interreligious Conference held in the wake of terrorist bombings, to draw attention to the devastation for children by this near ultimate affront to human dignity. "With inhuman trafficking across international borders for sex, sweatshops crammed with children under the age of 15 working all day long without any education and 600 million children living in poverty around the world, we need to pay attention to human rights. That’s why I am so very proud that UNITED is playing a significant role to bring people up to realizing how important the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is," says Lexton.