Woman’s National Democratic Club Memorializes Jo Cox

On what would have been Jo Cox’s 42nd birthday, (June 22), the Woman’s National Democratic Club—along with Bryan Bettis, ONE, Oxfam, and the White Ribbon Alliance—held a moving memorial service for the slain champion of Syrian refugees and member of the British Parliament. She had been assassinated a week earlier by Thomas Mair, who resented Cox’s support for Britain’s remaining in the European Union and shouted “Put Britain First” before killing her.  Cox left behind her husband, Brendan Cox, and their two children Cuillin, age 5, and Lejla, 3.

WNDC members  and many of Cox’s former Oxfam colleagues and other friends received  a white rose when they walked in.  Jo had been  dedicated to the White Helmets, a search-and-rescue organization seeking peace in Syria, who have saved more than 50,000 lives. She had also worked earlier at the White Ribbon Alliance to end maternal mortality.

Services, which were held globally,  included a video stream from Trafalgar Square in which Lily Allen sang “Somewhere Only We Know” a travel sing-along for the family, and a speech by husband Brendan Cox.  Jo was celebrated for her career in international human rights, called a “modern day suffragette,” and (by White Ribbon Alliance Executive Director Betsy McCallon) a “tremendous champion of peace, diversity and inclusiveness.” Local friends also recalled her vibrancy.

Husband Brendan Cox marveled at her energy. “Jo lived her life to the full with a pedal to the floor and with missing brake pads, she was a mountain climber, a runner, a cyclist, an avid reader, an awful cook, a swimmer, a great exaggerator, a wild food forager, a middle-lane driver, a log carrier, a ball of energy and determination and, above all else, she was a mum.”

“She just wanted people to be happy and for the world to be a fairer place, that’s where her politics came from, not from the libraries of Cambridge or to any theoretical attachment to a narrow ideology, but from the streets of Batley and her own empathy. When she saw pain, she wanted to do all she could to alleviate it. Whether that was the pain of older people in her constituency, or the pain of those forced to flee their homes and seek sanctuary as refugees.”

The service included the reading of this poem (by Dorothy Oger) in D.C., and in London by actress Gillian Anderson.

“I shall stand for love
Even with a broken soul
Even with a heavy heart.

I shall stand for love,
For the world is wounded.
Not just my little piece of land,
Where I am mostly safe,
Where I am mostly well,
But our world, everywhere

Every day.
I shall stand for love,
Because we need more light,
Not more deaths,
Not more power,
Not more bombs.

I shall stand for love,
So that our children are safe
So that our friends are sheltered
So that our borders are open.

I shall stand for love,
Even with a broken soul,
Even with a heavy heart.”

 “Everything Jo fought for is under threat in our world,” said Paul O’Brien of Oxfam America. Attendees were encouraged to #LoveLikeJo, emulating a life dedicated to advancing human rights and peace for all.

Veena Trehan, Chair
Global Women Task Force

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