Human Rights & Anti-Genocide Activist
World-renowned as a voice for human rights, New York Times bestselling author and former White House and National Security Council official John Prendergast has attracted Hollywood’s A-List to focus the world’s attention on genocide, corruption and the hope for peace in Africa. Working in countries such as the DR Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia for more than 35 years, John is the Founding Director of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity. He and George Clooney partnered to co-found the Sentry, an investigative initiative chasing the assets of African war criminals and their international collaborators. John serves as The Sentry’s Executive Director, with board members that that include Clooney, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Brad Pitt. His latest book, Congo Stories: Battling Five Centuries of Exploitation and Greed, co-authored with Congolese activist Fidel Bafilemba, features Ryan Gosling’s stunning photography of Congolese daily life. In addition to his work on the world stage, John has been a big brother in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program for 35 years to a number of boys, as well as a youth counselor and basketball coach. Read More >
John Prendergast on CNN
John Prendergast on Enough Project
How It Ends
2011 First Year Experience Annual Conference
For five centuries, Americans and Europeans have benefited enormously from the exploitation of the people and natural resources of a country in the heart of Africa: the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In this illuminating talk, drawn from his latest book and brought to life by photos by Ryan Gosling, Prendergast captures this astonishing history. He also shares how the people of Congo are risking their lives fighting back, supported by human rights movements led by young people in the U.S. and Europe. Blending 500 years of history with the headlines of today, Prendergast demonstrates that because of these brave change-makers, the way the world deals with Congo is finally changing.
Perhaps more than any other factor, war has driven and shaped human history. Superficially, many wars seem to have had no clear rationale or identifiable cause. Scratch beneath the surface, however, and there is one common denominator: unchecked greed. War may be hell for the people, but it is very profitable and politically beneficial for a small group of opportunists. John Prendergast illustrates this by focusing on the region of the world that he has spent the better part of the last 35 years working on: East and Central Africa. Together, Sudan, South Sudan and Congo have become the deadliest global war zone since World War II. When combined with genocide in Rwanda, Darfur, and the Nuba Mountains, the death toll amounts to over ten million in the last three decades alone. Prendergast chronicles this tragic history and what it means to the future of these tragically war-torn nations.
John Prendergast has pursued two paths to making an impact: locally, as a mentor and "Big Brother" to kids with absent fathers, and globally, as a human rights in Africa. In this inspiring talk Prendergast tells how he stumbled onto both of these paths as a young adult. He also shares ten building blocks that have contributed to three decades of making a difference. Along the way, Prendergast intersperse personal and inspirational stories of driving change in Africa, along with his work with celebrities such as George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright and Don Cheadle.
From the Holocaust to Rwanda and Darfur, genocide has one tragic commonality: the targeting of people on the basis of identity. John Prendergast examines genocide and its impact on the Jewish, Rwandan, Darfuri and other targeted peoples. He looks at the similarities and differences between contemporary genocides and the Holocaust, and how genocidal tactics have evolved since the Holocaust. He also highlights the growing people's movement to fight the causes of genocide, ethnic cleansing and atrocities. Calling these movements the greatest hope to prevent and end the greatest of human tragedies, Prendergast explores how the world’s response has changed since the Holocaust—and what we all can do to prevent it from ever happening again.
"Thank you so much for everything you did to secure John for our event last night. He really was just a delight and his talk was extremely engaging. The feedback has been so great from what I am hearing and John was incredibly generous with his time after the event speaking with audience members. I can't thank you enough, as I really would not have known where to turn for a speaker. I hope that we can continue to work together on this event in the future."
"On behalf of the Manitoba Dental Foundation, the time you spent with us (students of the Global College and the attendees at the Dare to Smile Gala) was remarkably inspiring, meaningful and an important 'call to action' locally and globally. I sincerely hope our paths cross again soon and often. Moreover, we wish you continued success in your pursuit of peace and social justice!"
"Truly a great experience. John made a direct connection to students and wowed our sponsors. I stayed with him for over an hour after the evening event as he took time to meet with every student who approached. Personally, I found him a wonderful and engaging man."
"Addressing current issues in contemporary Africa, John Prendergast spoke to an audience of approximately 400 students, faculty, and lifelong learners at the University of Utah. His humanity and passionate intensity to make Africa a better place were immediately evident. His command over the audience was sure and listeners followed him closely. At the evening event for 250 campus and community members, John again shared his story, detailing his personal introduction to human rights activism, punctuated by humor and spirited anecdotes. He stayed an hour after the event to connect with every student who approached him. Few of our speakers have ever shown this kind of interest and courtesy. Several students remarked that his visit was a transformative event in their lives. It was truly a pleasure to host him."
"John was a huge hit! He is a very stylish and charming fellow with an excellent speaking style. His talk is full of content and passion for his topic. His Q&A was excellent. People had a lot of good questions. After the talk, and determining that he was single, two different people asked him to marry their 43 year old, beautiful, intelligent, single daughters. That's a first for me as program chair, but likely something he hears along the way. It was pretty funny. He took it in good humor. (One Dad was serious. His daughter does similar work in Israel and Palestine). Thank you for your help."