Peace and Disarmament

Back to listSep 19, 2009

Peace Activist Betty Williams Speaks at SGI-USA Hawaii Culture Center


On September 19, 2009, more than 700 SGI-USA members, teachers, local officials and guests gathered at the SGI-USA Hawaii Culture Center for a talk given by peace activist Betty Williams. The event was a part of Hawaii's third annual "Peace Day Hawaii: Uniting with Aloha."

Ms. Williams, the founder of World Centers of Compassion for Children International, received the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work to restore peace in Northern Ireland. She spoke about how she was a receptionist and mother when, on August 10, 1976, she witnessed a car plough into a mother and her three children. The children were all killed. The driver had been shot, a victim of the sectarian violence between Protestant and Catholic groups in Northern Ireland. Ms. Williams drove into Provisional Irish Republican Army territory the following day to gather signatures from women for her homemade petition for peace. As a result, hundreds of women took to the streets that day and collected 6,000 signatures.

Over the years, Ms. Williams has been successful in gathering tens of thousands of women and men from both Protestant and Catholic faiths to take part in marches for peace. She is currently the president of the World Centers of Compassion for Children International, which seeks to create a strong political voice for children who live in areas afflicted by war, hunger, and social, economic and political upheaval. Ms. Williams continues to dedicate her life to giving voice to children around the world who are victims of violence, and hopes to bring about a reversal of thinking on how the world deals with such issues.

[Adapted from an article in the October 16, 2009, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of Craig Wood]