Adam Yauch • 1964-2012
It is an understatement to say that Adam Yauch changed all of our lives because he changed us so completely–through his music, his activism, and his friendship. Because his presence in our lives was so large, so shall be his absence. And also his legacy.
I find myself now remembering above everything else his tireless work for nonviolence & Tibet, of course, but also his amazing sense of humor. Those of us who were fortunate enough to work with him have likely never worked so hard nor laughed so much as we did when we were in his presence.
Yauch also changed what it meant to be an artist-activist. I admit that when I met him, I was skeptical of him and his interest in my work (I was a human rights activist studying & living with Tibetans in Nepal; he was the guy that sang “Fight For Your Right to Party”). But I quickly realized that he was an artist and an activist in the deepest sense of the words.
In the years that followed, he didn’t just produce and perform at our concerts for Tibet. He also went to conferences and organized workshops. He was deeply strategic–most of the time–always passionate, and always welcoming. He believed in our team of inexperienced but determined 20-somethings, and our ability to do the impossible. And with that belief in us and in nonviolence, together we DID do the impossible. Never before has more fun been had while changing the world!!
Yauch’s work for Tibet helped jumpstart and nurture an international youth movement for Tibet and nonviolence–the best example of which can be found in Students for a Free Tibet, our sister organization and partner during all of the Tibetan Freedom Concerts. That this organization and movement is stronger today than when the last Concert ended is a testament to Yauch’s vision, leadership, and belief in young people.
As sad as we all are at his passing, it seems to me that the best way to honor him is to continue his work.
To all of the people who worked on, came to, or were moved by the Tibetan Freedom Concerts, let’s keep up the work that we started there and remember his words:
“i know we can fix it and its not too late
I give respect to King and his nonviolent ways
I dream and i hope and i won’t forget
Someday i’m gonna visit on a free Tibet
Someday I’m gonna see us all joined as one”
And let’s send lots of love, prayers, and laughter to Dechen, Losel, his parents, and the whole Beastie Boys family. We are thinking of you all!!