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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

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 building.

"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
 

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