Grammy-winning singer and jazz musician Esperanza Spalding released a music video on Monday that she hopes will inspire viewers to call their members of Congress and tell them to shut down the Guantanamo Bay military prison launched by the Bush Administration at the height of its terror war.
"I want to help Congress see that there is public support for the goal of closing Guantanamo," she said in an advisory. "The first time I heard about the mass hunger strike at Guantanamo, I was appalled and embarrassed about what my country was doing. As I learned that there were far better options on the table, and that what is going on at Guantanamo is a clear violation of US human rights obligations, I felt I had to do something."
The song, "We Are America," featured cameos by Stevie Wonder and Harry Belafonte, among others. It was published Monday to coincide with the U.S. Senate's anticipated floor debate of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual appropriations bill that Republicans have repeatedly used to tie President Barack Obama's hands with regards to the transfer of terror war prisoners to the U.S. mainland.
Speaking to Amnesty International, Spalding said that it has long been a dream to use her music career and relative celebrity to be a "champion for people." With Guantanamo Bay, "I noticed a lack of a public champion," she added.
"For example, when you think environmental degradation, you think of Leonardo DiCaprio or Matt Damon who have been very vocal about it," Spalding continued. "Or when you think of child malnutrition or poverty, you may think of Angelina Jolie. But when you think about the human rights violations happening at Guantánamo, you think of people in orange jumpsuits tying themselves to the fence in DC -- they are the most public figures connected to Guantánamo. And I thought that's not fair."
While the Senate is expected to take up the 2014 NDAA this week, the most acrimonious debate will likely surround issues relating to the sequester and whether the Pentagon will be given greater autonomy to soften the budget cuts. An amendment that would have ended the indefinite detention of terror war prisoners failed in the House earlier this year on a largely party-line vote of 200 to 226. Just 19 Republicans voted in favor of ending indefinite detention, while 13 Democrats voted against.
This video was published to Vimeo on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.
Photo: Flickr user futureatlas.com, creative commons licensed.