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Peace and Disarmament

Back to listAug 28, 2013

SGI-USA Culture of Peace Talk Commemorates 50th Anniversary of March on Washington

Lerone Bennett, Jr.Lerone Bennett, Jr. speaking at the SGI-USA Chicago Culture Center

On August 28, SGI-USA hosted a talk by Lerone Bennett, Jr., a prominent African-American social historian and writer, at the SGI-USA Chicago Culture Center. The talk, part of SGI-USA's Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (August 28, 1963). The march called for civil and economic rights for African Americans and is best remembered for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

In his talk, Mr. Bennett, who befriended Dr. King when they were undergraduate students at Morehouse College in Atlanta, shared his perspectives and personal anecdotes concerning the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King's pivotal role as a leader of the movement.

SGI-USA Chicago members Participants at the event

Sean Murphy, codirector of the SGI-USA Chicago Zone Peace, Culture and Education Committee, welcomed Mr. Bennett and an audience of some 500 people. The event included readings of parts of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech by SGI-USA youth representatives and choral performances by the SGI-USA Chicago Chorus. 

The SGI-USA Chicago Culture Center, where the event took place, stands on the former site of the Chicago Coliseum, where on March 25, 1967, Dr. King delivered one of his first antiwar speeches at a peace rally, saying: "Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace." Mr. Bennett was present at that rally. 

Mr. Bennett has served on the editorial team of Ebony magazine for over 50 years. His best-known works include Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, and What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The SGI-USA Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series commenced in 2007 with lectures focusing on the action areas defined by the 1999 UN Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace. The series aims to foster a culture that rejects violence and addresses the root causes of conflict through the power of dialogue.

[Adapted from an article in the September 13, 2013, issue of World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of SGI-USA]