June 13, 2001
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U2 lead singer and activist Bono called Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina a "brave and bold man" for inviting him to lunch Wednesday to discuss the African AIDS crisis. "It's an extraordinary thing, I will admit, to have Jesse Helms to throw a lunch for you," said Bono. "You know it's bad for both of our images."
Bono said he was impressed that Helms "cares deeply about what is happening in Africa right now" and that "there is a move here in the Capitol to do something more historic about it. "I'm very humbled. I'm having my world turned upside down, and I'm surprised that people should be so generous in letting an obvious outsider in."
"You'll never be an outsider. You'll always be a friend here," Helms quickly responded, shaking the singer's hand.
Bono: "When I met with Senator Jesse Helms, he wept."
What exactly did you do to make Jesse Helms weep?
"I talked to him about the Biblical origin of the idea of Jubilee Year, the idea that every 49 years, you were supposed to release people from their debt and slaves were supposed to be set free. It's very punk rock for God, but I think it's in Leviticus. He was genuinely moved by the story of the continent of Africa, and he said to me, 'America needs to do more.' I think he felt it as a burden on a spiritual level."
The Charlotte (NC) Observer, 7/5/2008
On Friday, the singer Bono, who helped expose the senator to the plight of AIDS victims, called John Dodd, director of the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, NC.
“There are 2 million people alive in Africa today because Jesse Helms did the right thing,” Bono said in a voicemail.