John and Diane Foley—the parents of James Foley, an inspiring freelance journalist who was murdered by members of ISIS in Syria on Aug. 19, 2014—will participate this evening in a discussion at the University of Arizona about what it is like for journalists to face a world that seems to be getting more and more dangerous.
I spoke with Diane a few days ago, and she said being a part of these talks are important to them because it is a way to keep their son's inspirations alive. Until his last breath, James was an advocate for his fellow journalists' freedom of speech, and a loud voice shedding light on people's suffering, hoping that through his work he'd be able to change things.
"We feel Jim's spirit with us, and it helps me continue," she said. "Whether it was a child in the inner city of Phoenix or a child suffering in the middle of war, advocating for freelancers and their needs. He was always one to try to help the underdog."
Foley is among 61 correspondents and other reporters who were killed last year, and more than 1,100 journalists and other media workers from Latin America to the Middle East have been killed since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The groups says that figure does not include the many others who have been kidnapped, imprisoned, threatened or forced to flee.
Through the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, the Foleys hope to help protect journalists reporting from war zones, health and social aids working in dangerous regions and also inspire others to be more involved in the issue. It something that concerns all of us.
In recent days, Diane has been in touch with the family of Kayla Mueller, a Prescott native humanitarian aid worker and activist who was killed on Feb. 6 while held hostage by ISIS. She had been worried about Kayla's situation for over a year, since she was taken captive in Aug. 2013.
"She was a wonderful young girl, huge heart," she said. "She is one of our heroes."
Diane reached out to her family and hopes to be in touch with them more often, although she wishes they could have met under other circumstances.
"We are going through this horrible situation together," she said.
The forum today is sponsored by the Center for Border & Global Journalism.
Journalist Terry Anderson, a former Associated Press correspondent who was held hostage in Beirut, Lebanon for almost seven years, will participate, as will David McCraw, a First Amendment lawyer from The New York Times. The discussion will be moderated by UA journalism professor and co-director of the Center for Border & Global Journalism, Mort Rosenblum.
The talk is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the UA's Integrated Learning Center Auditorium 120, located near the Main Library.