Director of URI's Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies
to appear in PBS special
A Force More Powerful
KINGSTON, R. I. -- September 6, 2000 -- Sitting at a lunch counter sounds
harmless enough. But if you were black, living in Nashville, Tennessee and
it was 30 years ago, it was an act that defied the status quo and created
news around the world.
A Force More Powerful, A Century of Nonviolent Conflict,
a feature-length documentary about nonviolent resistance movements around
the world, will be shown on WGBH, Channel 2, the Boston PBS affiliate, on
September 18 and 25.
Narrated by distinguished actor Ben Kingsley, it presents one of the
20th Century's most compelling and least understood stories. The documentary
shows how tyrants were toppled, governments shaken, occupying armies thwarted
and ruling parties shattered, without so much as a gunshot from the opposition.
The Nashville section, shown on September 18, beginning at 9 p.m.,
tells how black college students led by the Rev. James Lawson, a Methodist
minister, who had studied in India, took up nonviolent "weapons."
Among the original core of eight students was Dr. Bernard LaFayette, scholar-in-residence
at the University of Rhode Island and director of URI's Nonviolence and
Peace Studies Center, who currently lives in North Kingstown.
Using historic film footage and present day reflections, the documentary
demonstrates how Lawson's students, disciplined and strictly nonviolent,
successfully desegregated Nashville's downtown lunch counters in only five
months. The students became a model for other activists, and created a corps
of battle-heartened leaders for the entire civil rights movement.
LaFayette eloquently recalls the conflict in the film, underlining the
important nonviolent lessons employed. The former civil rights leader has
embraced nonviolence throughout his life, becoming a recognized world leader
in nonviolent social change and nonviolence education.
Under his leadership, URI's Center trained students and Rhode Island
community members in nonviolence methodology. Last May, Gov. Lincoln Almond
named LaFayette chair of the Governor's Commission on Race and Police and
Community Relations. Outside the state, LaFayette is helping establish peace
centers in South Africa and Colombia.
This fall, LaFayette will speak at URI's Honors Colloquium "Nonviolence:
Legacies of the Past, Bridges to the Future." His talk, on September
26, will be held in 271 Chafee at 7:30 p.m. The talk is free and open to
For Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116