Since high school Peter Yarrow's commitment and life's work have been directed by awareness that music of conscience can have an extraordinary effect when utilized in efforts to transform society. As a performer and social activist, Peter has used music to inspire and bring people together as they mobilize to create a more just, peaceful, and compassionate society. Through such efforts, beginning in the early 1960's, the music of Peter, Paul and Mary became, for literally millions of people, the genesis of their awakening to activism, idealism and a life long commitment to making positive social change.
Now, after more that four and a half decades of advocacy for civil rights, peace and social justice, Peter's activities have become focused on the work of an organization he founded some 5 years ago called Operation Respect.
Operation Respect, an advocacy and awareness organization, also disseminates a free classroom-based program "Don't Laugh At Me"(DLAM) that uniquely utilizes the creative arts – music and video – combined with research-based curricula, to address the toxic culture of bullying as well as emotional and physical violence among children. Through its work, OR has sparked a national movement that uses proactive strategies to address the dramatic need for change in school climate and culture.
Just five years since the birth of Peter Yarrow's brainchild, the strength of his vision has already proved to be remarkable. Through over 400 personal appearances to some 400,000 educational leaders and practitioners, Operation Respect has motivated the majority of America's educational organizations, members from both houses of Congress—Republican and Democrat alike – as well as individuals from the private and non-profit sectors, to contribute their time, talent, and funds to the development and free dissemination of the "Don't Laugh at Me" (DLAM) Program. The McGraw-Hill Companies have led the way with critical support right from the beginning as Operation Respect's most important sponsor.
The DLAM program has been provided through its website, www.operationrespect.org and delivered free to nearly 100,000 educators in over 10,000 schools in America and around the world. This represents over one-eighth of the elementary and middle schools in the United States. DLAM is dedicated to creating an educational platform which includes powerful elements of the arts to inspire the spirit of a next generation who will walk the walk of tolerance and understanding that Peter believes, in the long term, is the surest road to world peace.
As an artist and member of Peter Paul and Mary, Peter Yarrow's determination to make a difference has become at least as renowned as his musical talent. His gift for songwriting, which has produced some of Peter, Paul & Mary's most moving songs including Puff, The Magic Dragon, Day Is Done and Light One Candle, has always gone hand in hand with his fierce commitment to using his art to effect positive social change. Commensurately, Operation Respect's mission is founded on the belief that the transformation of society can only come about through heart connections that empower each of us to see ourselves as part of a larger community and an active force for positive change. It is through the creative arts, in Peter's view, that such inspiration becomes possible.
Highlight Awards and Honors:
• People for the American Way—Defenders of Democracy Award
• Central Synagogue, NYC—Shofar award, "For fulfilling a lifelong commitment to tikkun olam, in accordance with the highest principles of the Jewish people,"
• Reclaiming Youth International—The Spirit of Crazy Horse Award
• Project Love—Rescuer of Humanity Award
• Honorary Doctorate – National Lewis University, Chicago, Il
• Educator of the Year Award from NYASCD
• Honorary Doctorate – San Francisco State University