On January 1, 2000, Key West artist JT Thompson began the new millennium by launching an awareness-building campaign around the fact that all humans are interconnected: “like fingers on a hand, we appear separate; but each of us are in fact an integral part of each other.” He designed a simple black on white bumper sticker proclaiming that “All People are Equal Members of Our One Human Family.” JT printed 2,000 stickers and began delivering batches to shops and businesses around Key West every Sunday.
The City of Key West was well known for its diverse, tolerant social dynamic, so the message struck a chord with people around town and the stickers quickly disappeared. Soon, JT was printing thousands more, and on October 17, 2000, Key West Mayor Jimmy Weekly and the City Commission unanimously adopted “One Human Family” as the city’s official philosophy, issuing a proclamation stating the intention to “share our unique perspective and simple words of hope ‘One Human Family’ with our global neighbors, so others can find inspiration to grow beyond the artificial limitations of racism, nationalism, classism, monotheism, prejudice, homophobia and every other illusion used to try to separate us from all being equal.”
The stickers quickly went viral as a worldwide meme spread by the millions of tourists passing through Key West each year. The message distilled in the popular imagination as a simple 3-word mantra: “One Human Family” and JT Thompson soon had a global influence. Several Key West businesses, interest groups, and individuals joined the effort, and an all-volunteer non-profit organization was formed to collect donations and apply 100 percent of the contributions to printing stickers.
By 2008, the One Human Family effort had produced and distributed one million stickers, including responding by mail to requests coming in from around the world. Thompson was sending out up to 15,000 free stickers a month. The project had also attracted large backers such as Carnival Cruise Lines, General Motors, Tropicana Orange Juice, the AFL-CIO and the Simon Weisenthal Holocaust Museum, as well as gaining support from various academic groups, clubs, and activists.
One Human Family tickers have been sent to nearly every region of the world, including such remote areas as the pacific island of Pago Pago and the Buddhist theocracy of Tibet. Thompson and Gregory Wilson also hand-carried 50,000 stickers to Sydney, Australia in 2002, and 50,000 to Chicago in 2006 for the International Gay Games. However, although the Gay Pride movement has embraced the 1HF message, in Thompson’s words, “One Human Family is not about any one group, it is about everyone supporting equal rights, dignity and respect for everyone else. Everyone has a stake in that goal.”
At CoolKeyWest, we endorse the One Human Family concept and applaud JT’s work. We like to think that helping visitors from around the world enjoy the human spirit and natural beauty of Key West is done in line with Albert Einstein’s observation that our experience of ourselves as something separate from others is a delusion of consciousness and a kind of prison that we can free ourselves from by “…widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
One Human Family stickers are free and available by sending a business size self-addressed envelope to: One Human Family, PO Box 972, Key West, FL 33041.
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