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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

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 the public.

For Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116

 

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