The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah will be the featured guest as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) hosts its annual VOICES: A Show of Unity, a fund-raising evening of laughter, music and storytelling, from 5-7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport.
Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, ADL is a leading anti-hate organization and its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.
“Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur,” said Andy Friedland, ADL associate director, who helped to organize the VOICES event. “A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online, ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate. As our country has become increasingly divided and the discourse shifted away from civility — our mission to fight bias, bigotry and hatred is more important than ever.”
Last year, the first VOICES event was held at the Levitt Pavilion in Westport and featured a multimedia lineup headlined by Paul Shaffer, the Plain White T’s and Suzanne Vega. It also brought in numerous groups from the community including Double Up Dance and School of Rock Fairfield.
“Prior to that, we had hosted three or four honoree-based fund-raisers across the state,” Friedland said. “VOICES was a whole new opportunity to engage a bigger community, bringing in new people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about ADL and our mission. We had so much engagement and excitement around last year’s events, we took that inspiration to create our VOICES show for this year, which we expect to also be truly entertaining and thought-provoking.”
Noah was the perfect person to spotlight this time around, as The Daily Show host is not only a tremendous talent, but his personal experiences and ability to speak across difference have made him a vital and incisive voice in America today, Friedland said.
“Raised in Apartheid South Africa by a black mother and white father, he knows too well the impact that bias, bigotry and hate can have on society,” Friedland said. “His own background, combined with his talent for being able to use humor to get to the heart of the issues that plague our country today, made him a perfect fit for an ADL event.”
In addition to Noah, other guests representing music, comedy and the community will be taking part under the artistic direction of Sarah Green. Currently scheduled are performances by Double Up Dance Studio, gospel recording artist Marcia Fountain, Pivot Ministries plus other local choirs, KEYS (Kids Empowered by Your Support) graduate Victor Ramirez, cover band Frank! and a medley by the Fairfield County Clergy.
“Nov. 11 will be an evening of laughter, music and storytelling, with local groups who reflect the diversity of Fairfield County,” Friedland said. “Plus, it’s going to be an unforgettable evening and an intimate conversation with one of the most influential entertainers out there.”
Also on the night, Lorella Praeli, ACLU’s director of immigration policy and campaigns, will be recognized with the prestigious Irwin J. Hausman Civil Rights Award. Praeli came to the United States from Peru as a child and spent nearly 13 years as an undocumented immigrant.
“Lorella was bullied in Connecticut schools for being Latina and for having lost a leg in a car accident,” Friedland said. “Through working with ADL, Lorella found her voice to stand up to the bullies and become one of the top DREAMer immigration advocates in the country.”
She is now one of the leaders advocating for better immigration policies and protecting immigrants’ rights in a time where that job has never been more important.
“ADL has always maintained that immigrants and diversity make our country stronger and we have advocated consistently for DREAMers, refugees and comprehensive immigration reform,” Friedland said. “That our programs could play a part in Lorella finding her voice as a student is a testament to their effectiveness, and the great things Lorella has already achieved are a testament to her extraordinary strength, intelligence and hard work.”
Tickets cost $300 with proceeds supporting ADL’s programs to fight bias, bigotry and hatred in high schools, middle schools and communities around the state of Connecticut.
“These programs teach kids how to be allies (and not bystanders) when they see their peers bullied,” Friedland said.
Those at the ADL are incredibly excited for this opportunity to bring its Connecticut communities together, across the state, to share in the powerful unifying experiences of music, laughter and dialogue.
“With so much hatred and division in the world today, we are creating an evening that brings people together,” Friedland said. “With the power of comedy and music, we will be sharing ways that we can all make a positive difference in peoples’ lives. We want to share the power of ADL’s message and programs, but also give people an opportunity to meet their neighbors and share space and laughter with them.”
For more information, visit ADLVoices.org.