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Longtime Peace Activist Damu Smith Launches Campaign to Battle Colon Cancer

StoryJuly 08, 2005
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We speak with Damu Smith founder of Black Voices for Peace and executive director of the National Black Environmental Justice Network. For more than three decades, Damu has worked tirelessly on the frontlines of the anti-war and environmental justice movements. Last month, he was diagnosed with colon cancer in its advanced stages. He is now seeking treatment. [includes rush transcript]

We end today’s program with Damu Smith, a living legend. He founded Black Voices for Peace and the National Black Environmental Justice Network. He hosts the program Spirit in Action on Pacifica station WPFW and he has been a leading peace activist for decades. Damu is now fighting for his life. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with advanced stages of colon cancer. Supporters are organizing fund-raising events around the country to help with his medical and personal expenses. The goal is to raise at least $150,000.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to Damu Smith, who’s a living legend. He founded Black Voices for Peace and the National Black Environmental Justice Network. He hosts a program, "Spirit in Action" on Pacifica station WPFW. And he has been a leading activist for decades. Damu is now fighting for his life. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with advanced stages of colon cancer. Supporters are organizing fundraising events around the country to help with his medical and personal expenses. The goal is to raise at least $150,000. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Damu.

DAMU SMITH: Well, good morning, Juan. And thank you for having me this morning.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, you are well known in many circles in Washington and around the country as a long-time peace activist. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience, and what happened particularly in terms of when you found out that you had colon cancer?

DAMU SMITH: Well, you know, I found out in late March that I had advanced stage colon-rectal cancer and liver cancer. And, of course, this hit me like a ton of bricks, like it would anyone, but, you know, Juan, I felt that I needed to turn this experience into something that could benefit not only my own health and life, but others. And so, for the last few months the Spirit of Hope campaign, formed to provide support to me and my family, has expanded to talk about how we can raise some issues around health care justice and other issues. So tomorrow night here in Washington, there will be a national tribute to me hosted by Danny Glover and Bernice Johnson Reagon at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium at 7 p.m., preceded by a health and wellness fair at 5:30 p.m also at Cramton Auditorium. And I’m just so happy that people are coming from around the country with Amiri Baraka and Haki Madhabuti and Al Sharpton and Sonia Sanchez and many others in the Washington area. And so, we want to bring together people to raise these issues, and we want to talk about how we can organize a national campaign for health justice, even as we are focusing on my situation. People can call 202-265-4919 or visit www.DamuSmith.org, to find out more information about the national tribute tomorrow here in Washington.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, that’s Damu Smith, and we urge all of you who can to attend the program. That’s tomorrow night.

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