Biography of TAKA ZENRYU KAWAKAMI in Short


Taka was born into a family that had created generations upon generations of priests for the Shunkoin temple in Kyoto, Japan. When he was young, it went without saying that he would become one too. But first, he wanted to see America.

At university in Arizona, Taka studied religion and psychology. One day, while he was having tea with a friend, someone walked past and Taka made a rude comment about them being gay. His friend was shocked. I’m gay too, they said. Is that the way you feel about me?

Taka was ashamed. He thought of the discrimination he’d faced for being Asian in America. How could he face discrimination himself and then turn around and discriminate against others? Being gay was something Taka had never really thought about When he did, he came to the conclusion that it was outlawed in Japan because they have a culture of everyone trying to be the same, to pass unnoticed, and not to be different.

Back in Japan, at the Shunkoin temple, Taka didn’t forget his new values. Even though gay marriage is still illegal in Japan he volunteered to perform marriages for same-sex couples at his temple, He’s now married gay couples from around the world, as well as some from Japan.

Taka also gives talks at Japanese universities. He explains to students that same-sex relationships are nothing new in Japan, and there are records of them happening over two thousand years ago. There is also nothing in the sacred texts of Buddhism that prohibits such relationships.

About seven percent of people in Japan don’t have the option to get married, Taka said. This cannot lead to happiness in the country.

With his help, we’re already seeing a little more happiness spread through Japan.

Biography of THE EDELWEISS PIRATES in Short


During the brutal Nazi reign of Germany, many children joined the Hitler Youth, an organization meant to teach them hate and cruelty. By 1936, all ten- to eighteen-year-olds were told they had to join, or face severe punishments.

But not everyone did.

The Edelweiss Pirates were groups of young people across Germany who resisted the Nazis by refusing to join the Hitler Youth. The Pirates tended to be working-class teenagers between the ages of fourteen and seventeen years old, with jobs in factories and mills. They felt stifled by the control the Nazis had over people’s lives. Jazz music had been banned, thousands of books were burned, and people were afraid of having honest conversations about the oppressive regime in case someone overheard and reported them.

In the hills and fields of Germany, the Pirates found the freedom to say and sing what they wanted. They would take hikes through the countryside, sleeping in barns and tents, and sing folk songs around campfires. They wore long hair, checkered shirts, lederhosen, and neck scarves. They Scrawled Down With Hitler’ on the walls of their cities.

If they came across deserters from the army of prisoners escaped from camps, the Pirates would shelter them in their homes. Every time they walked past a car belonging to a Nazi, they poured sugar into the petrol tank. They would have street battles with the Hitler Youth, raid Nazi supply stores, and organize campaigns to spread information to the allies of a group of countries who were opposed to the Nazis – however possible.

It was a dangerous group to be involved with. Pirates who were caught could be beaten, sent away to concentration camps, or even hanged. Still, they met and they sang.

Hitler’s power may lay us low, And keep us locked in chains, But we will smash the chains one day, We’ll be free again.

Biography of THE INNOCENCE PROJECT in Short


In 1986, a twenty-seven-year-old woman was found dead in New York City Barry Gibbs was arrested. He was a postman who had fought in the Vietnam War and lived in New York all his life. When the police picked him up. Barry had no idea what was happening

Barry was sentenced to twenty years in prison. He protested his innocence but no one believed him. Even his own son believed he’d committed the crime.

After years spent in jail, Barry was depressed, lonely, and desperate He got in contact with the Innocence Project, pleading for help. When they searched for the DNA evidence related to his case, they found it had mysteriously disappeared.

Then, one day, the home of one of the men who had arrested Barry was searched and the evidence was found. Barry had been framed and they had proof. With the help of lawyers from the Innocence Project, Barry was set free after nineteen years in jail.

In 2010, the city of New York awarded Barry ten million dollars in compensation. Obviously, it could never be enough to make up for what had happened to him, but it meant he could try and enjoy the years of freedom he had left.

The Innocence Project have helped hundreds of people like Barry without asking anything in return. They work tirelessly to find new DNA evidence that can set innocent prisoners free Some of the prisoners they try and help have life sentences, others have been sentenced to death.

People can be convicted of things they haven’t done for three main reasons witnesses thought they saw things they didn’t see, evidence wasn’t treated carefully, and people were tricked into confessing to things they didn’t do. Whatever the reason, Barry Schek. Peter Neufeld and their team of dedicated lawyers continue to light for those they believe to be innocent.

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