Rock for Human Rights Brings Hope for Change to Youth across America
Wil Seabrook is a singer, songwriter and the founder of Rock for Human Rights (R4HR). US born, he moved to Germany with his family at nine years old, where he witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall. “All of a sudden, because people simply stood up and demanded that it be better, the world got better. And that really struck me, it was powerful for me,” Seabrook says.
Back in the US, Seabrook attended boarding school, going from international to everyday human rights violations—cruelty and bullying amongst students. Getting into music, he found a way to express himself. “I always wanted to save the world with music, that was the idea.”
In 2006, he participated in the creation of music for one of the new Youth for Human Rights public service announcements. While making the music, he also learned about human rights and the YHRI materials. “And I said at that point, ‘That’s it. I’m doing something with this material—with my music and this material.’” Thus R4HR was formed.
“The goal is to educate an entire generation about the basic human rights that everyone should have,” Seabrook says. “My hope is that kids will understand their own ability to effect change in their environment.”
In 2014, he brought top Zimbabwe artist Alexio Kawara to the US for the first R4HR tour. They went school to school performing inspirational music, including their song “Candle,” while also teaching human rights to the students. Next was a 30 cities in 30 days for the 30 human rights tour. R4HR visited schools and communities across the US, from California to Washington State, then Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, DC, North Carolina and ending in Florida.
“The number one question was, ‘Why does a fifth grader in Iowa care about human rights around the world?’ How do you make this subject real to that kid and why should they care?” When he asks kids to raise their hands if they’ve been bullied, almost everyone does. He relates human rights to that point. The students feel empowered.
“The goal is to educate an entire generation about the basic human rights that everyone should have. My hope is that kids will understand their own ability to effect change in their environment.”
R4HR guitarist, Cal, said, “Some kids, they just come out and write these really big purposes. They would say, ‘I’m going to change the world.’”
Wanting to ensure his tour didn’t become a one-time moment of inspiration but a long-term change, Seabrook began leaving teachers with the YHRI Education Package so they could continue the delivery. Now, having reached over 20,000 students in 51 schools, R4HR is also establishing Human Rights Clubs in the schools. The Florida State University in Tallahassee formed their own Human Rights Club and invited R4HR to speak at their human rights conference, which was attended by students from across the state.
To reach yet more, R4HR did TV and radio interviews and then joined YHRI at its annual International Human Rights Summit. Their work and hours of volunteer service were recognized with a 2019 Presidential Service Award.
“There is no feeling in the world that compares to feeling that you have genuinely made a difference in people’s lives and the world around you,” Seabrook says.
Learn more about Seabrook’s human rights work at Scientology.tv/WSeabrook.