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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Activist discusses pacifism

    American civil rights leader Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. was at the UA Thursday to teach students the importance of leadership and social change through non-violent means.

    “”The purpose for this gathering was to give the young people … an exposure to the concepts of non-violence and a philosophy,”” LaFayette said. “”But also to show them how those principals were used in the social change movement of the 60’s … and how those same principals and concepts can be applied to problems that they face today in their community, in their schools, in their families.””

    LaFayette spoke to 150 middle school, high school and UA students in the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom about the importance of using non-violent communication tactics.

    As one of the events kicking off Black History Month and celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, LaFayette was brought to Tucson through the efforts of a coalition of university and community organizations.

    LaFayette was on the front lines of the American civil rights movement in the 1960s: protesting, marching and leading right alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

    “”I was the national program administrator for Martin Luther King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,”” LaFayette said. “”He had a lot of confidence in … me, the national coordinator for the poor people’s campaign. That was his last campaign.””

    LaFayette said he remembered speaking with King a little under a year before he was assassinated.

    “”He said ‘this may be my last campaign.’ He said, ‘We are going for broke, and we need you.’ That was around September of 1967,”” LaFayette said. “”As national coordinator I had to supervise all the program directors.””

    The UA’s Women Resource Center was one of the organizations involved in putting on the event.

    Brianne Richmond, family studies and human development senior and WRC intern, said the organization was very emphatic about bringing Lafayette to the UA.

    “”He teaches communications in the King-ian style,”” she said. “”It’s communications skills that you use to effectively communicate within anything.””

    Ann Yellott, coordinator of the Culture of Peace Alliance, a non-violence legacy program that co-sponsored the event, said this event is just “”phase one”” for youth non-violence training in Tucson. She said there will be a two-day event in April that will be much more in-depth.

    Yellott said it is important to train the next generation of leaders to be key players in the civil rights movement.

    “”We have to be passing the torch, passing the legacy,”” she said.

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