Civil rights icon to speak at Seton Hall

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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Bernard LaFayette Jr. will speak at Seton Hall University as part of the South Orange Community Care & Justice initiative’s Peace and Community Justice speaker series. 

The event — in which LaFayette will engage in conversation with Seton Hall’s the Rev. Forrest Pritchett as well as students and youth activists from the community — will be held on Sunday, May 2, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Livestreamed from Jubilee Hall at the university’s campus in South Orange, attendance is free and open to the public online; register beforehand at  

“Dr. Bernard LaFayette’s biography essentially comprises the history of nonviolent civil rights activism in this country,” said Juan Rios, director of SHU’s Master of Social Work program and a director of the Community Care & Justice initiative. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. entrusted Lafayette with the leadership of some of the most important civil rights organizations and initiatives this nation has ever known. And the face of the 21st century is markedly different — and better — on the basis of those major MLK decisions and Dr. LaFayette’s work.”

South Orange Trustee Donna Coallier, chairperson of the village’s Health and Public Safety Committee and a leader of the Community Care & Justice initiative, agreed, saying, “We are deeply honored to welcome Dr. LaFayette to South Orange. As we lead restorative and transformative practices here in South Orange, it is imperative that we lean on the history, wisdom and accomplishments of leaders such as Dr. Bernard LaFayette and Rev. Dr. Forrest Pritchett.”

A civil rights movement leader and activist for more than 60 years, LaFayette was arrested 30 times in his nonviolent pursuit of social justice and equality before the law. He is a minister, educator, lecturer and noted authority on the strategy of nonviolent social change. He co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960 and was formally entrusted with its official leadership by King in 1967. He was a leader of the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins in 1960 and the Freedom Rides in 1961, and directed the Alabama Voter Registration Project in Selma in 1962. He was appointed national program administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and national coordinator of the Poor People’s Campaign by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.