OUR MISSION

Voice of Witness (VOW) advances human rights by amplifying the voices of people impacted by injustice.

Our work is driven by the transformative power of the story, and by a strong belief that an understanding of crucial issues is incomplete without deep listening and learning from people who have experienced injustice firsthand.

Through our oral history book series and education program, we amplify the voices of people impacted by injustice, teach ethics-driven storytelling, and partner with human rights advocates to:

  • build agency within marginalized communities,
  • raise awareness and foster thoughtful, empathy-based critical inquiry and understanding of the crises they face,
  • and inform long-term efforts to protect and advance human rights.

OUR HISTORY

Voice of Witness was cofounded by author Dave Eggers, writer & educator Mimi Lok, and physician Lola Vollen. Eggers originated the VOW book series with Vollen in 2005. In 2008, Lok transitioned Voice of Witness to a 501(c)(3) organization and established its education program.

For over ten years, VOW has illuminated human rights crises in the U.S. and globally. Our oral history book series has amplified hundreds of seldom-heard voices, including those of wrongfully convicted Americans, undocumented immigrants, and people in Burma, Zimbabwe, and Colombia.

Our education program serves over 20,000 people annually. Our oral history pedagogy has been used to train a broad range of advocates for human rights and dignity, including educators, writers, journalists, attorneys, and medical doctors.

Voice of Witness is the proud recipient of the 2013 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award. Learn about our work in this profile in the Smithsonian Magazine.

OUR PROGRAMS

Voice of Witness Book Series

We produce an acclaimed book series that depicts human rights and social justice issues through the edited oral histories of people most closely affected by them.

Voice of Witness Education Program

Our education program connects educators, students, and members of justice movements around the U.S. with these stories and issues through oral history-based curricula, training, and holistic educational support.

 “To read a Voice of Witness book is to feel one’s habitual sense of disconnection begin to fall away.”

George Saunders, author of The Tenth of December and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient

SUSTAINING THE STORIES

VOW is made up of a dedicated staff and board as well as an extended community of editors, educators, and volunteers. Our work is made possible through support from individual donors, foundations, and community partners.

If you would like to support our work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation or volunteering.