2021-What inspired Annie Lennox into activism?

What inspired Annie Lennox to become a social activist?

Mon, 08 Nov 2021 11:34:00 GMT
GCU Chancellor Dr Annie Lennox OBE
GCU Chancellor Dr Annie Lennox OBE

Legendary singer-songwriter and social activist Dr Annie Lennox OBE revealed that her grandparents and Eurythmics partner Dave Stewart’s stepfather inspired her to become a social activist fighting for climate action.

The Glasgow Caledonian University Chancellor spoke with pride about how her working-class grandparents fought for social justice.

Dr Lennox explained: “My passion for social activism came from my father’s side of the family, who were working-class shipyard workers and socialists. One half of my family were very socially conscious and activists between the first and second world wars. 

“My grandparents were social activists working outside the factory gates, handing out pamphlets, fighting against the fascists that came up to Scotland trying to persuade working-class people to join the fascist movement. I only found out about my grandparents’ activism later on in life.

“Some of that consciousness has come from hearing these issues being discussed around the dinner table. It wasn’t beaten into me but somehow or another there is something in the Lennox DNA that is very aware of injustice. It has always been the case. I feel it in my bones. It is in my blood and I cannot walk away from it.

“When I went down to London in 1971 something significant happened to me. Dave Stewart, my partner in Eurythmics’ stepfather was passionate about the glaciers melting. 

“He had every book on the subject. Every Sunday, he used to go with a placard down to Camden Lock and tell people that the ice caps were melting and we were going to be flooded. It sounded quite eccentric at the time but he knew that huge climate justice organisations were picking up on this. 

“That is why I am so passionate as Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University to encourage and inspire our students to actively take part in tackling this climate emergency. 

“This is a real, serious, global, pending catastrophe - I’m not going to mince my words because we can’t hide it under the table any more. We must speak candidly about it. Our young generation must inherit the earth and it must be a fit place for our children and grandchild, otherwise we have no future.

“As Chancellor, my role involves young students who work hard to become graduates, scientists, visionaries, planners and leaders.  I’m deeply concerned about the challenges they will have to face in the years that lie ahead.”

Aberdeen-born Dr Lennox, now living in America, said she has given up meat and become vegetarian to help reduce her impact on the planet but wishes she could do more.

She added: “I’m living here in America. Everything is plastic. To be quite frank it haunts me because I don’t personally know how to change a system that is all around me.

“If there was one thing, my one change is becoming vegetarian and not eating red meat. I live with despair, I am dreadfully anxious about our future. Every day I feel ‘Oh my god, we’re stuck’.”

Dr Lennox hopes that when everyone leaves Glasgow after COP26 that world leaders will “walk the talk”.

She said: “Being around COP26, everyone is focused on climate change but afterwards, when everyone leaves, one has to walk one’s talk. If large countries such as India and China do not get on board and really genuinely try to reduce their emissions, we are in real jeopardy. 

“I am very proud it’s taking place in Scotland but I really have this terrible sense of dread. 

“The latest UN report says we are missing the opportunity to build back better after the pandemic and if we don’t, we face disastrous temperature rises of at least 2.7C if countries fail to meet their climate goals. That is really sobering. COP26 is not about the talk – it’s about meeting the pledges, so the outcome remains to be seen.”

Find out more about GCU's COP26 activity -  www.gcu.ac.uk/cop26