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Laying of the bones in Congo Square, New Orleans (Photo credit: One Million Bones)

Laying of the bones in Congo Square, New Orleans
(Photo credit: One Million Bones)

By Faith J. H. McDonnell (@Cuchulain09)

The IRD is a founding member of Act for Sudan, a bi-partisan alliance of activists who advocate for an end to genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan. This weekend, June 8-10, Act for Sudan is co-sponsoring an unprecedented event to demonstrate the enormity and devastation of genocide. Lives lost in such places as Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Burma will be represented by one million handmade bones, displayed on the National Mall.

One Million Bones describes itself as “a large-scale social arts practice” which means they “combine education, hands-on art making, and public installations to raise awareness.” The organization provides genocide education adapted for every grade of school. As the name suggests, the art-making consists of providing people with the opportunity to create “bones” that represent and honor victims of genocide and mass atrocities, as well as those who are still fighting to survive in those regions of conflict. Public installation of the bones serves as both a memorial and a visual petition to those who have the responsibility to protect the innocent.

Over the past three years, One Million Bones has done two preview installations to prepare the way for this weekend’s installation on the National Mall. The first took place in Albuquerque in August 2011. 500,000 bones were installed at that event. Another 500,000 bones were installed at an event in New Orleans in April 2012. Students, artists, activists, and church members from around the United States and around the world participated in the creation of the one million handmade bones to be installed on the National Mall. I created a bone during a Sudan/South Sudan advocacy conference in Des Moines last year.

One Million Bones founder and TED Fellow Naomi Natale, actress Robin Wright, Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, former U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Sudan Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Enough Project founder John Prendergast, Carl Wilkens, the only American to remain in Rwanda during the genocide, and many other human rights leaders as well as international musicians, will join hundreds of activists from around the United States at the National Mall during the Saturday, Sunday, and/or Monday events. The bone laying and an evening program will take place on Saturday, educational workshops and a candlelight vigil on Sunday, and on Monday activists will move to Capitol Hill for advocacy.

If you are able, please attend One Million Bones. You can learn more about this powerfully moving project and sign up to volunteer at the Washington D.C. installation at www.onemillionbones.org. You may identify yourself as a member of the Act for Sudan team, if you would like. If you can’t come for all three days, you are welcome to participate whenever you can. View the schedule here.

Each bone represents a call to action, a story, a voice. (One Million Bones)