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Bernard Lafayette, Dr. MLK Jr. Protégé, to Speak at Eastern

Written by Dwight Bachman

Bernard_LaFayette (2).jpgWillimantic, Conn: --Bernard Lafayette Jr., a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre. Lafayette, who the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hand-picked as one of King's deputies during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, will lecture on "Reaching Beyond Your Grasp." His presentation is part of Eastern's popular "University Hour" series.

 "Rev. Dr. Lafayette began his career fighting non-violently for peace, human rights and equality as a college student, and continues to be vigilant in that struggle as one of the deans of the struggle today," said Stacey Close, Eastern's interim associate vice president for equity and diversity. "This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech.  Dr. Lafayette was an active participant in the critical moments and changes in our nation's history.  We are truly fortunate to have such a visionary leader visiting our campus."

Lafayette is recognized as a major authority on strategies for nonviolent social change and nonviolent direct action in the world.  As a student in 1960, he was a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC. Lafayette was also involved in the struggle for civil rights in Nashville.

A year later, he and other African American and white college students joined the call to become part of the Freedom Riders, a movement to enforce federal integration laws on interstate bus routes, as a way to nonviolently transform the nation. 

Later in 1965, Lafayette played a leading role in organizing the voting rights campaign in Selma, AL. He also served as national program administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. appointed Lafayette to be national program administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and national coordinator of the 1968 Poor People's Campaign.

Lafayette is a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the Candler School of Theology, at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He received his B.A. from American Baptist Seminary, and earned his Ed.M. and Ed.D. degrees from Harvard University.  He founded and served for several years as the director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island.  He has published widely and has lectured throughout the world.

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