URI appoints former Civil Rights leader,
nonviolence educator as Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence
KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 23, 1999 -- A former Civil Rights leader and
national authority on nonviolent social change and nonviolence education
will soon join the University of Rhode Island.
Dr. Bernard LaFayette, currently president of the American Baptist College
in Nashville, has been appointed as a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence
at the University. He will arrive in June and will serve a three-year term.
The appointment was announced today by URI President Robert L. Carothers.
"Certainly the ongoing war in Kosovo, the terrible violence in Colorado
earlier this week, and events that have happened even closer to home emphasize
the need for leaders like Dr. LaFayette, said Carothers. "At the University,
this has been a time for learning about violence and about working for peace.
Dr. LaFayette,s presence, and his participation in the Center for Nonviolence
and Peace Studies, is timely for the challenges that face our community,
the state, and the nation.
"The University of Rhode Island and the state have been making great
strides in the area of nonviolence and peace education, said Dr. LaFayette.
"I am pleased to join with others who have pioneered the work in this
century. Children around the world can be educated to change our society
from a culture of violence to a culture of non violence. As Martin Luther
King said, It,s either non-violence or non-existence,, LaFayette added.
"Dr. LaFayette is a wonderful role model for the entire community,
said URI Provost M. Beverly Swan. "His work will undoubtedly enrich
our thinking on issues of diversity and nonviolence and inspire us with
a greater understanding of peaceful means to affect change in our society.
As a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, LaFayette will pursue his ongoing
mission of developing a national and international network of centers on
nonviolence, with the University and its ongoing work as his base. He will
take a leadership role in incorporating nonviolence education as a focus
for the work of several URI programs and in helping the University as a
whole to learn about the concepts and practice of nonviolence. LaFayette
will also have a special role in developing URI,s proposed Center for Nonviolence
and Peace Studies. The URI Center,s mission is focused on promoting nonviolence
as a philosophy and methodology for relationship development and community
"Dr. LaFayette,s involvement here gives us the opportunity to reach
out on a regional, national, and international basis, said Abu Bakr, one
of the co-convenors of the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies
and assistant director of URI,s organizational development programs. "It,s
a great match for where we are right now, and where we see the University
heading with this critical issue.
LaFayette has been a Civil Rights Movement activist, minister, educator,
lecturer, and administrator. He is an authority on the strategy of nonviolent
social change. In 1960, LaFayette was one of the eight students who led
the Nashville Movement to desegregate that city, and who were the subjects
of David Halberstam,s recent book, The Children. LaFayette is also featured
in Taylor Branch,s authoritative book, Pillar of Fire , and in John Lewis,
memoir, Walking With The Wind.
LaFayette co-founded the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
in 1960. He was a leader of the 1960 Nashville Movement, the 1961 Freedom
Rides, and the 1965 Selma Movement. He directed the Alabama Voter Registration
Project in 1962 and was appointed National Program Administrator for the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and National Coordinator
of the 1968 Poor People,s campaigns by Martin Luther King, Jr.
In a proposal submitted for LaFayette,s appointment, faculty and staff
members of the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies described LaFayette
as "a leading spokesperson for the traditions of nonviolence and their
translation to contemporary conditions in America, South Africa, and elsewhere.
He is a direct link to many of the great achievements of nonviolent reconciliation
of the twentieth century, and a repository of the peace-building skills
needed for the twenty-first.
Dr. LaFayette earned his B.A. from the American Baptist Theological Seminary
in Nashville TN, and his Ed.D. from Harvard University. He serves as chair
of the Executive Planning Committee for the International Conference on
Nonviolence; and has served in numerous national and international positions
throughout his career including: director of peace and justice in Latin
America; chair of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development;
Scholar-in-Residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta, Ga;
director of the PUSH Excel Institute, among others. He has also served as
dean of the Graduate School at Alabama State University in Montgomery; faculty
member at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta; principal of Tuskegee
High School; and a Pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tuskegee,
Alabama and of the Progressive Baptist Church in Nashville.
For More Information: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-2116