Ashley Judd Advocate for the Oppressed
Learn How Ashley Judd Uses her Platform to Speak Out
But first some background….
In the early 1990s, our office got a call from Grammy award-winning country singer, Naomi Judd. She was ‘the mom’ in The Judds, one of the most successful country music duos in history. She had been using our album Ocean Dreams in her own healing process, telling us she played it every day to help her through her Hepatitis C which the doctors had told her was incurable. She wrote to us about how much the music helped her and eventually she ordered all of Dean Evenson’s music. For years, she would hand out our CDs to friends she met on her tours, from Bill Moyers to the head of the CIA to the doorman at the Biltmore. As she said to us, “Everyone can use some peace in their lives.”
When we heard of her death last year we were devastated. After her tremendous success in The Judds duo and even after surviving her liver disease, Naomi faced many personal challenges. We realize for some celebrities who find success early on in their lives, that personal happiness doesn’t necessarily follow. The day after her death, The Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Both her daughters were there to represent her. We had met Naomi and Wynonna when they toured together but we had never met Ashley, the younger daughter who had pursued a successful acting career.
That changed recently as we were honored to connect with Ashley Judd when she was keynote speaker at our local Western Washington University. She graciously invited us to her presentation and to the reception that followed. In her talk, we learned more about her advocacy and humanitarian work. She has traveled the world with her international public health work dealing with maternal health, child survival, sex trafficking, human rights, disease prevention and treatment. She was also named one of Time Magazine’s persons of the year for her role as a silence breaker and changemaker in the #MeToo movement when she bravely spoke out about sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood.
As she told her story, we were impressed to learn how much courage it takes to act when others won’t. Too often, people turn a blind eye to issues that may be uncomfortable or controversial. Not so with Ashley. From an early age, she spoke out about injustice because in her mind it was the right thing to do. As she has grown and her platform has broadened, she has used her fame to call attention to important concerns while at the same time giving a voice to the voiceless around the world. For over 20 years she has been the global ambassador to Population Services International and other public health non-profits working to improve lives in Asia, Africa, and around the world. She has been on the front lines of the battle against preventable diseases and issues that especially affect women and vulnerable populations.
In her deeply moving memoir, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, Ashley describes her journey from childhood challenges, depression, and rape, to becoming a fierce advocate for the oppressed. In her recent talk she reminded her audience of the importance of being able to stand for something without standing against our fellows. In speaking about the polarization in America today, she encourages putting principles above personalities because “we can learn how to do this without being personally punitive, without being an incitement to controversy, and without putting ourselves in unqualified authority over our fellows.” She adds “I try to do the harder thing in life, and I try to be a woman of integrity. And I try to stand up for other girls and women because no one stood up for me.”
We are grateful for strong women like Ashley Judd who uses her platform to call attention to issues in our world that can and need to be corrected. We are also glad that she has now started listening to our music and we hope that it supports her personal spiritual practice and brings some solace to her as she uses her voice in such a powerful way. May she be an inspiration to all of us to use our platforms to support causes we care about.
Article appears in Retailing Insight Magazine Sharing Peace Through Music column p. 46-48