Brooklyn Heights

Freedom Rider Bernard Lafayette to speak at St. Francis College for Black History Month

February 16, 2017 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bernard Lafayette. Photo courtesy of SFC
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A pioneer of the civil rights movement — among other actions, he took the first Freedom Ride with U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) — Bernard Lafayette has spent his lifetime fighting for justice and equality. He will bring his story to St. Francis College on Feb. 21 at 11:10 a.m. in the college’s Founder’s Hall.

St. Francis College professors Sara Rzeszutek Haviland (author, “James and Esther Cooper Jackson: Love and Courage in the Black Freedom Movement”) and Emily Horowitz (author, “Protecting Our Kids?: How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us”) organized the talk as part of the Spring 2017 Senior Citizen Lecture Series and scheduled it to anchor the college’s Black History Month celebration.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students and our community to meet and hear first-hand from one of the most important leaders of the dangerous fight for civil rights and desegregation in the South,” said Horowitz.

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Lafayette was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and worked closely with leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. He ran the Alabama Voter Registration Project in Selma beginning in 1962 and was instrumental in growing the movement building up to the famous Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, which prompted Lyndon Johnson to submit the Voting Rights Act to Congress.

“Dr. Lafayette went against the advice of other leaders who said working for civil rights in Selma was too dangerous. He faced beatings, was arrested and risked his life to demonstrate that nonviolence could triumph over racial segregation and violence in that city and beyond. His courage and lifelong dedication to justice and equality provides a model for our students,” added Haviland.


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