Bono Rings Up Liberty Medal

The City of Brotherly Love has a thing for Bono.

U2’s do-gooding frontman was feted Thursday in Philadelphia, where he collected the city’s Liberty Medal for his humanitarian work and activism on behalf of Africa’s poor.

“When you are trapped by the poverty, you are not free. When trade laws prevent you from selling the food you grew, you are not free,” the “One” singer told a crowd of VIPs after receiving the accolade from former President George H.W. Bush.


The ceremony was held at the National Constitution Center, a stone’s throw away from Independence Hall and the famed Liberty Bell.

The performer, whose real name is Paul Hewson, also paid tribute to Myanmar’s Buddhist monks who have taken to the streets to protest the Southeast Asian country’s notoriously repressive dictatorship.

“When you are a monk in Burma this very week, barred from entering a temple because of your gospel of peace…well then, none of us are truly free,” he said.

Along with the medal, Bono was awarded $100,000 in cash, which he donated to his nonprofit Debt AIDS Trade Africa (DATA) charity.

Past recipients of the Liberty Medal include former presidents Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, as well as ex-South African President Nelson Mandela.

The medal will join the singer’s jammed trophy case.

Bono, 47, is the only person nominated for an Oscar, a Grammy, a Golden Globe and a Nobel Peace Prize, which he’s been up for three times.. (He and his bandmates have won a record 22 Grammys to go along with a Golden Globe.)

He was also named one of Time‘s Persons of the Year in 2006 and twice made the magazine’s 100 most influential list; bestowed honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth; given Portugal’s Order of Liberty for his humanitarian endeavors; awarded Chile’s Pablo Neruda International Presidential Medal of Honor; and earlier this year he received the NAACP Chairman’s Image Award.

Bono also gave a shout-out to the rest of the U2 boys, because, he quipped, “they’re in the studio expecting me.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers are planning to release their 12th studio album sometime in 2008.

Of course, it could be some time before Bono gets back. He’s scheduled to be in New York on Saturday night to talk about his work with DATA and the current state of youth activism for the Clinton Global Initiative.

The roundtable discussion, being held at the historic Apollo Theater and sponsored by MTV, will also feature President Clinton, Chris Rock, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys and Shakira and be webcast live on think.mtv.com, one.org and keepachildalive.org