Longtime civil rights leader to speak on campus Monday

Publication Date

The College continues its observance of Black History Month


with a talk from a prominent civil rights leader.

Bernard Lafayette, a Freedom Rider and minister who has worked tirelessly to promote civil rights, will come to campus Monday to detail his experiences during one of the nation's most tumultuous times.

Lafayette’s talk, “Religion and the Civil Rights Movement,” is at 6 p.m. in the Nott Memorial.

Working alongside such leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Bevel, Lafayette heralded the importance of nonviolent social change in America. He joined the Freedom Riders, a group African-American and white civil rights activists who rode buses together protesting segregation. The riders were attacked in May of 1961 at a bus station in Montgomery, Ala. Lafayette narrowly escaped the attackers and went on to participate in many other nonviolent public protests, including the marches from Selma to Montgomery alongside King and others.

He also was a member of the Nashville Student Movement and worked closely throughout the 1960s with groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

He is currently a distinguished scholar-in-residence at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He also helped found the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island. In 2011, Lafayette published an opinion piece in the New York Times on his experience as a Freedom Rider. Read that by clicking here.

The President’s Office, Africana Studies Department, Multicultural Affairs Office and Campus Diversity Office are co-sponsoring the event.

Other campus events for Black History Month include a Civil Rights Movement movie screening at Green House. The shows include:

  • Monday, Feb. 20, 9 p.m.: “Something the Lord Made” (2004)
  • Monday, Feb. 27, 9 p.m.: “Ghosts of Mississippi” (1996)

The Black Student Union is also hosting its 8th annual Black History Month Celebration Saturday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. in Old Chapel. The event will include special performances and a reception immediately following.