Voice of Witness

Voice of Witness (VOW) is a non-profit dedicated to fostering a more nuanced, empathy-based understanding of contemporary human rights crises. We do this through 1) our oral history book series, which amplifies the voices of men and women most closely affected by injustice, and 2) our education program, which provides curricular and training support to educators and invested communities.

For more information, visit www.voiceofwitness.org
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What a cool way to collect oral histories! The Listening Post is a community media project from a New Orleans public radio station that plants microphones across the city to encourage residents to record their thoughts about local issues. Instead of speaking with a reporter, people approach digital recorders embedded in statues made of recycled cardboard. 

Remembering how US policies changed after 9/11

Today we remember how so many lives changed after 9/11 by sharing Adama Bah’s story, which was first published in our book Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post 9/11 Injustice.


On March 24, 2005, Adama Bah, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl, awoke at dawn to discover nearly a dozen armed FBI agents inside her family’s apartment in East Harlem. They arrested her and her father, Mamadou Bah, and…

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How did Lok, a former Hong Kong based journalist with little fundraising experience, turn Voice of Witness into a far-reaching nonprofit?

"Really hustling," she says from VoW’s Mission District offices. "And it helps when you’re not doing it for yourself, when it’s a cause you believe in and want to see grow.”

Our executive director is profiled in San Francisco State Magazine 


Did you know Studs Terkel was Voice of Witness’ founding advisor?

For Labor Day, NPR produced a great profile on his seminal book Working: 

"In the early 1970s, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel went around the country with a tape recorder, interviewing people about their jobs. He collected more than 130 conversations with a variety of people, including a waitress, a car parker, a jockey, a baseball player, a farm worker, a press agent and a sports team owner.

The result was Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. When it was published in 1974 it became a best-seller — something unprecedented for an oral history collection.

But after the book came out, the interview cassettes were packed away in boxes and stored in Terkel’s home office. Terkel died in 2008.

This year, producers Joe Richman of Radio Diaries and Jane Saks of Project& were given access to all the original raw field interviews — most of which have never before been heard publicly.”

Happy Labor Day from all of us on the Voice of Witness team! 

Today we’re thinking of all the courageous labor rights activists we know like Kalpona Akter. Check out her story in Invisible Hands: Voices from The Global Economy: http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/invisible-hands-voices-from-the-global-economy-1

Welcome to our new Education Program Interns, Inge and Claire!

Inge Oosterhoff

I am a Dutch MA student of North American Studies at Leiden University and very grateful for the opportunity to do this internship at VoW. Not only will I learn a great deal from the internship itself, but I also get to indulge in the Bay Area’s culture and weather. In my spare time I like to draw and do creative writing, and I very much enjoy doing yoga. If I’m brave enough I…

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ISRAEL and PALESTINE. Harper’s Magazine, September 2014. “Where to go from here.” A forum taken from a conversation at the Jerusalem YMCA on June 15th.

With Bernard Avishai, Dani Dayan, Forsan Hussein, Eva Illouz, Bassim Khoury,Erel Margalit, Danny Rubinstein, and Khalil Shikaki.

PART ONE: “We live so close to each other, yet we know so little about each other.”

PART TWO: “We are not a fort. We are a hub.”

PART THREE: “Palestine is not Jordan.”

PART FOUR: “The Kerry Intifada.”

What we’re reading at the Voice of Witness office -the cover story is a must-read.

I realized quite early in this adventure that interviews, conventionally conducted, were meaningless. Conditioned clichés were certain to come. The question-and-answer technique may be of some value in determining favored detergents, toothpaste and deodorants, but not in the discovery of men and women. There were questions, of course. But they were casual in nature—at the beginning: the kind you would ask while having a drink with someone; the kind he would ask you. The talk was idiomatic rather than academic. In short, it was conversation. In time, the sluice gates of dammed up hurts and dreams were opened.
Studs Terkel on his interview technique during Working. (In related news, we completed two interviews this week and have a bunch more lined up for next week!)
Excerpt from Palestine Speaks in Guernica Magazine Sacred_Land_2011_550_tall Guernica
We are excited to share an early excerpt from our next book release Palestine Speaks: Voices from the West Bank and Gaza that Guernica ran this month. READ IT HERE. To read more about Palestine Speaks and pre-order the book from Powell’s Books, click here. We also encourage you to pre-order copies through your local bookseller or…

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