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Peace and Disarmament

Back to listApr 19, 2011

“Victory Over Violence” Tours Texas

University of Houston-Clear Lake, HoustonParticipants with keynote speaker Rebecca White (center) at the opening of the VOV exhibition at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Houston

SGI-USA youth in Texas launched a 30-day "Victory Over Violence" (VOV) exhibition tour that spanned six Texas universities and was seen by some 1,100, from March 21 to April 19. The tour coincided with the anniversary of the April 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Columbine, Colorado. That year, in response to the shootings, SGI-USA youth created the VOV youth initiative. VOV aims to inspire young people to identify and counteract the root causes of violence in their lives and communities. A corresponding peace pledge calls for each individual to value their own lives, respect all life, actively pursue dialogue and inspire hope in others.

The exhibition opened at Midwestern State University on March 21 where 115 of the 175 viewers signed peace pledges. Commenting on the exhibition, president of the Midwestern State student campus club, Lindsay Steigerwald, said, "The future is in the hands of our generation. It is really encouraging to see how many students support the cause."

The exhibit then traveled to Texas Woman's University. An SGI youth leader shared that the VOV showing motivated a number of students and faculty to raise their voices against violence. Although the exhibition was displayed for just three hours at the school, it drew 230 visitors, and 178 signed the peace pledges.

At the University of Texas at Arlington, the International Modern Buddhists club kicked off the VOV opening with a proclamation signed by Arlington Mayor Dr. Robert Cluck, naming March 28, 2011, Soka Gakkai International Victory Over Violence Day. In his keynote message, Dallas County Juvenile Department Supervisor Roger Taylor stated he had signed the VOV pledge more than two years ago. To mark the event, he renewed his peace pledge at http://www.vov.com/.

At the VOV exhibition opening at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, keynote speaker Rebecca White, president and CEO of Houston Area Women's Center, a domestic and sexual violence shelter, told how prevention efforts such as the VOV initiative can stop violence before it occurs. Some 170 viewed the exhibition, with 154 signing the peace pledge.

During its three-day showing on the University of Houston's main campus, some 130 viewed the exhibition and 93 signed pledges. The final stop of the exhibition was at the University of Texas at Austin where some 60 attended.

[Adapted from an article in the May 6, 2011, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of Jane Torres]