Voices Against Indifference Initiative

The Harry Wu Project

January – February 2000

Press Release 11.15.99

For Immediate Release
For more information:

Kathy Rowan – 704.541.7529
Stephanie Ansaldo – 704.347.3844


November 15, 1999 (Charlotte, NC) – Internationally renowned human rights advocate and Chinese dissident Harry Wu will be in Charlotte February 22-24, 2000 as the guest speaker for The Echo Foundation’s first annual Benefit Award Dinner, and to participate in several Echo-sponsored educational community programs. A member of The Echo Foundation’s International Board of Advisors, Wu will present the “Echo Award Against Indifference” to Charlotte business leader and community advocate Joe Martin at the dinner to be held at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 23, at The Hilton Charlotte.

“Joe Martin was chosen as the first recipient of The Echo Award because he so profoundly exemplifies our organization’s mission to promote human dignity, justice and moral courage through individual positive action for humankind,” said Echo President Stephanie Ansaldo. The award honors a member of the Mecklenburg County community who works “with an eye toward peace, a heart filled with compassion and a voice against indifference, in order to remind our community of its highest ideals.”

Echo Award Dinner Committee Chairpersons are Alan and Lisa Lee Morgan of Lee Morgan, Inc. General Contractors. Tickets for the dinner ($150 individual, $1,500 table sponsor, $3,000 corporate sponsor) are available by calling Lisa Lee Morgan at (704) 348-1460.

Harry Wu spent 19 years as a political prisoner in a forced labor camp run by the Chinese government. He has repeatedly risked his life by returning to China to document slavery and human rights abuses. As founder and executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation, Wu has courageously exposed human rights atrocities within China’s forced labor camps by testifying before the U.S. Congress, writing books about his experiences, and calling the world’s attention to the ongoing human suffering through speaking engagements across the globe.

Bank of America executive Joe Martin’s compassionate action for the rights and dignity of all people has earned him a special place in the heart of the Charlotte community. His initiation of “Race Day,” which encouraged people of different races to go to lunch together, his eloquent lobbying for a public library plan for the disabled and his heartfelt plea for a halt to the divisive discourse surrounding arts funding issues, demonstrate Martin’s continuing quest for building community through peaceful action and dialogue. Though physically challenged because of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Martin continues to serve as special counsel to Bank of America and speak for equality and justice in our community.

The educational component of Harry Wu’s visit to Charlotte features a student dialogue with Wu on February 23. Using the latest technology, Time Warner Cable is providing generous support to share the dialogue with students and teachers across the Charlotte region. “The Harry Wu Project”begins January 2000, with programs targeted toward educators and students to broaden awareness of China and global human rights issues prior to Wu’s visit.

The Echo Foundation was founded in 1997 by Stephanie G. Ansaldo to carry on the message that Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel brought to Charlotte – a call to action for human dignity, justice and moral courage. Most recently, the Foundation sponsored “The Varian Fry Project,” a two-month educational project focusing on the subject of “courage” as exemplified in the life of Varian Fry, an American who spearheaded the rescue of some 2,500 people from Nazi-occupied France.