russell-simmons_web.jpgRussell Simmons, a highly influential figure in the world of music, fashion, TV and film, was named last month as the “goodwill ambassador’’ for a proposed memorial that would honor the victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
Simmons received the honor May 20 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The ceremony doubled as the official launch of the Trust Fund for the Permanent Memorial To Honor the Victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

The event’s organizers sought to refocus the attention of the international community on the horrific nature of slavery, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and its legacy of discrimination.

The Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations, the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union (AU), in collaboration with the UN Office for Partnerships and the UN Department for Public Information, co-hosted the event.

“It’s humbling to be invited to join the UN Community in this role as Goodwill Ambassador,’’ Simmons said in a prepared statement. “In recognizing the past, we understand the stakes in ensuring that something as devastating to the human condition as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade will never happen again.’’

He continued, “My commitment in life is to be of service to the empowerment of young people living in struggle, who undoubtedly have been affected by this legacy. I look to the future with inspiration and faith as we work every day to bring freedom and equality to all young people around the world.”

Simmons, chairman and CEO of Rush Communications, where he consistently uses his influence in pop culture to benefit those who are living in struggling communities, “was an easy choice,” said

Ambassador Raymond O. Wolfe, Jamaica’s permanent representative to the United Nations and chairman of the Permanent Memorial Committee.

So far, the Trust Fund has raised about $250,000 of the $3.5 million that is required for the memorial’s construction. It is scheduled to be completed in 2012.

For more information about the initiative, please contact Annette Richardson, the project’s manager, at 212-963-1000 or email her at

Photo: Russell Simmons