Civil Rights, Black Power, and Social Justice: The Courage to Act

Public Event

As part of the Presidential Inaugural Series on Social Justice, the panel "Civil Rights, Black Power, and Social Justice: The Courage to Act" will take a close look at the evolution of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's, its legacy on contemporary society, and the current political and cultural forces that have the potential to advance or obstruct civil rights and freedoms.

Through inspiring stories of personal courage and scholarly research, our esteemed guest panelists will explore and analyze how we arrived at where we are today, and what's at stake for the future.  Panelists include civil rights leader Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., Distinguished Senior Scholar in Residence at Emory University at the Candler School of Theology, and civil rights scholar Dr. Peniel Joseph, Professor of History at Tufts University and award-winning author and guest commentator on issues of race, civil rights, and democracy on C-SPAN, NPR, and PBS's NewsHour. 

Event Details:
Wednesday, February 9
7:30 pm
Gamble Auditorium, Art Building

Student Leadership Seminar

Let Freedom Ring: Leadership for Today
Wednesday, February 9
4:15 pm, Willits-Hallowell

A seminar on leadership, courage, and action to advance social justice with civil rights leaders and activists Dr. Bernard LaFayette and Dr. Peniel Joseph.

Preregistration required


Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr.

Bernard LaFayette, Jr. has been a Civil Rights Movement activist, minister, educator, lecturer, and is an authority on the strategy for nonviolent social change. He co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, was a leader of the Nashville Movement in 1960, and participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961 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 Poor People’s Campaign by Martin Luther King, Jr.

An ordained minister, Dr. LaFayette earned his B.A. from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, and his Ed.M. and Ed.D. from Harvard University. He has served on the faculties of Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta and Alabama State University in Montgomery, where he was Dean of the Graduate School. He was also a principal of Tuskegee Institute High School in Tuskegee, Alabama and a teaching fellow at Harvard University.

His publications include "Curriculum and Training Manual for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Community Leadership Training Program," his doctoral thesis "Pedagogy for Peace and Nonviolence: Campus Ministries and Social Change in the ‘60s" (Duke Divinity Review), and "The Leaders Manual: A Structured Guide and Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence" with David Jehnsen. Dr. LaFayette has traveled extensively, inspiring the establishment of Kingian Nonviolence training institutes around the globe in Africa and the Middle East.

Dr. LaFayette is a former President of the American Baptist College of ABT Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, a former Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia, and Pastor Emeritus of the Progressive Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He served as Director of Peace and Justice in Latin America as Chairperson of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development; Director of the PUSH Excel Institute; and minister of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Dr. LaFayette is the Founder and National President of God-Parents Clubs, Inc., a national community-based program aimed at preventing the systematic incarceration of young Black youth; a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; and Founder of the Association for Kingian Nonviolence, Education and Training Works.

Dr. LaFayette recently retired as the Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence and Director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island, and currently serves as its honorary board chair. He continues to lead Kingian Nonviolence trainings internationally.

Peniel Joseph

Dr. Peniel Joseph

Peniel E. Joseph is Professor of History at Tufts University and the author of the award-winning "Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America," and "Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama," as well as editor of "The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era" and "Neighborhood Rebels: Black Power at the Local Level."

Dr. Joseph is the founder of a growing subfield in American History and Africana Studies that he has characterized as "Black Power Studies" which is actively rewriting postwar American and African American History as well as related interdisciplinary fields such as Africana Studies, law and society, sociology, political science, Women's and Ethnic Studies, philosophy, anthropology, Literary Studies, and American Studies.

He is a frequent national commentator on issues of race, democracy, and civil rights who appears on C-SPAN’s Book TV, NPR, and PBS’s NewsHour. During the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, Dr. Joseph provided historical commentary for the PBS NewsHour.  He has appeared on the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS, the Bev Smith Radio Show, and the Bob Edwards Show on XFM Satellite Radio.

The recipient of fellowships from Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Ford Foundation, his essays have appeared in The Journal of American History, The Chronicle Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Book Forum, and The American Historical Review.

Dr. Joseph was born in New York City, the second son of Haitian immigrants and grew up in a family where dinner table conversation centered on Haitian history, contemporary labor politics, and anti-racist struggles.  Raised in a predominantly African American neighborhood, he was surrounded by Haitian Creole and history coupled with black popular cultural innovations such as the emerging Hip Hop. His mother's tales of tumult, passion, joy, and sorrow as a trade unionist and hospital worker inspired a life-long fascination with social justice and activism in a variety of forms--standing on picket lines, and protesting the Gulf War, apartheid in South Africa, and the quarantine of Haitian refugees in Guantanamo.  While in graduate school at Temple University, he became involved with issues surrounding police brutality, social justice, and the death penalty.