The Red Bandana Fund will be honoring two immigrants, Phil Edmonds and Omar Bah, for the fifth annual Red Bandana Award. The Fund honors individuals and groups whose work embodies the spirit and work of Richard Walton, a longtime Rhode Island activist who died in 2012.
The awards will be presented on Sunday, June 4th at a celebration at the Providence Firefighters Memorial Hall, 92 Printery St., Providence, from 3 to 6 pm. The event is open to the public and is family-friendly.
The Red Bandana Fund was created to who work so selflessly on behalf of the community with little recognition or financial reward. Through the Red Bandana Fund, an annual financial prize is made to an organization or individual whose work best represents the ideals of peace and social justice that exemplify Richard’s life work.
In 2016 the awards were given to Artemis Moonhawk and Sarath Suong and the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM). Previous award winners include:
Eric Hirsch, 2015
The workers at the Renaissance Hotel, 2015
Henry Shelton, 2014
Providence Student Union, 2014
Amos House, 2013
Richard Walton had an outdoor party every year, on the banks of the Pawtuxet Cove in Warwick, in which people from all over the country would gather from all walks of life and political activism to raise money for Amos House. He did this every year, on his birthday, up until his death December 27, 2012. The Red Bandana Fund has continued this tradition every year since then.
Phil Edmonds, originally from Ireland, is a long-time resident of the Providence area who has been a constant presence in many local campaigns for justice, peace, and the rights of the poor and homeless. “More than anything, we’re acknowledging that Phil has served as an example of what it means to live a simple, peaceful conscious life,” said Bill Harley, a member of the committee. “People talk about ‘walking the walk, talking the talk’ all the time, but Phil actually does it. He treads lightly on the planet.” A stalwart in the Providence music scene as a member of the highly popular, world music band the Gnomes, he is as loved and respected as much for his music as his activism.
“When the Red Bandana Award was created, Phil was on our mind from the very beginning,” Harley noted. “We can all learn from him.”
Omar Bah, founder and director of the Refugee Dream Center in Providence, is an immigrant from Gambia, who escaped imprisonment and torture to come to the United States. Led by his own experiences, he has become an important voice for the powerless and discounted, and a powerful advocate for refugees in the current hostile political environment. “Omar has been recognized by many organizations in the past year, but his work was so important, and his organization works on such a shoestring here in the Providence area, we felt this recognition was important and well-deserved.”
The celebration is open to all with a suggested donation of $20 payable to the Red Bandana Fund. In addition to the awards ceremony, there will be performances by the amazing Mark Cutler and the Extraordinary Rendition Band.
“This is always one of the most joyous parties of the year,” stated Bill Harley. “You can’t help but smile. And just like Richard’s parties, some of the nicest people in the state will be there for one the nicest gestures a community can make. With Phil there, you know there’s going to be a lot of dancing this year for sure.”
So come this Sunday and join with us as we gather together to honor the past, and the future, in memory of Richard Walton. Buy yourself a an official, Richard Walton, Red Bandana and a beer, as we toast those who have worked for, and continue to work for, social justice in Rhode Island.
See you there.
To find out more about The Red Bandana Fund or to make a contribution, click here redbandanafundri.org
(Core participants in organizing the event this year include: Rick Wahlberg, Barbara Wahlberg, Karen Malcolm, Jane Murphy, Corinne Wahlberg, Maggi Rogers, Jane Falvey, Eric Hirsch, Mary Ann Rossoni, Bill Harley and Stephen Graham)