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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI's Bernard LaFayette, Jr to receive Diversity Award for Lifetime Achievement

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I -- March 28, 2005 -- Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., distinguished scholar-in-residence and director of URIís Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, has been selected as the fourth recipient of the Universityís Diversity Award for Lifetime Achievement.

LaFayette is being honored for his historic leadership role in the American civil rights movement, his tireless campaigning for peace, nonviolence, and human rights in domestic and international arenas, and his contributions to social justice causes on campus and around the state. LaFayette will be honored at the Universityís Seventh Annual Diversity Awards Celebration to be held in the Memorial Union Ballroom, Tuesday, April 26, 2005 at 6:30 PM.

A central figure in the history of the civil rights movement, LaFayette participated in many of the direct action encounters with civic leaders of the era. As a teenager he was one of the eight charter members of the pioneering Nashville student movement that used lunch counter sit-ins to mobilize opposition to segregation in 1960. Later he helped to start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and he took part in the dramatic Freedom Rides through the South in 1961 that led to the desegregation of interstate transportation. He was appointed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as national program director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Events of the movement and LaFayette's participation have been recounted in the PBS documentary, A Force More Powerful, and in the book The Children by David Halberstam.
Last month, LaFayette was an honored guest speaker at the U.S. Department of State's Celebration of African American History Month with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel and other national figures.

"America is not what it can be. It's a great nation, but we can be greater now. We've always made important achievements in the area of human rights and liberty. And because of America, many nations enjoy democracy while we're working on improving our own. And we know we have work to do to make a more perfect nation. That's our challenge for the future," LaFayette said to the audience of national and international diplomats and others assembled at that event. He concluded his talk with: "We've seen our country make some great strides in the past. My final comment is, Secretary Rice, you ain't seen nothing yet!"
LaFayette has taken a leadership role mediating between the U. S. government and members of the Sioux nation at Wounded Knee, S.D.; preparing for the first democratic elections in South Africa; and advocating peace to rebel guerrillas and prisoners in Colombia.

LaFayette has trained hundreds of adherents of nonviolence in communities around the world. His publications include: The Leaderís Manual: A Structured Guide and Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence (with David C. Jehnsen, 1995); The Briefing Booklet: An Orientation to the Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Program (with David C. Jehnsen, 1995); and The Community Leaderís Handbook: Strategies for Responding to Conflict and Violence (1998).
An ordained member of the clergy, he has served as chair of the Governorís Commission on Race and Police-Community Relations under Rhode Island Governors Lincoln Almond and Don Carcieri. He holds the Ed.M. and Ed.D.degrees from Harvard University.

In addition to LaFayette, the University of Rhode Island will honor several students, faculty, staff, administrators, and friends who have advanced the campaign for diversity and multiculturalism. Awards will be presented for contributions to undergraduate student excellence in academics and service, leadership and service, and arts and culture; graduate student excellence in academics, leadership, and service; faculty excellence in leadership and service; and staff/administrative excellence in leadership and service.
Initiated in 1999, previous Diversity Award for Lifetime Achievement winners are University President Robert L. Carothers; Municipal Judge Frank Caprio of Providence; and Vice Provost of Urban Programs John McCray, Jr.

To attend the event or receive additional information about the event, please contact Mailee Kue, Multicultural Center, (401) 874-5829, maileekue@uri.edu; or Roxanne Gomes, Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, and Diversity, (401) 874-4929, roxanne@uri.edu. Voluntary donations are being accepted to defray the costs.

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Making history: Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. was invited to speak at the U.S. Department of State's African American History Celebration in February about his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement and how these experiences have influenced his life. He is shown here with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Image is courtesy of the U.S. Dept. of State.