Dr. Bernard Lafayette has a long history of involvement with social change. He is the current Chairman of the Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization cofounded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Emory University. During the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, Dr. LaFayette was a co-founder and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Nashville Sit-ins, a courageous Freedom Rider, an associate of Dr. King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Dr. King Jr’s appointee as the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Campaign. He was instrumental in identifying Selma as the location for the voting rights movement that resulted in the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and ultimately the 1968 Civil Rights Act.
He is also the founder of The Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island. While directing the Center, Dr. LaFayette led education and training programs in Kingian Nonviolence on state, national and international levels, with successful projects world-wide, in countries such as South Africa, Colombia, Nigeria, the Middle East, and Mexico.
In January of 2009, Dr. LaFayette accepted an appointment at Emory University in Atlanta as a Distinguished Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the Candler School of Theology, where he now works with their Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding program, and the Religions and Human Spirit Cross-cutting Initiative. Dr. Lafayette is an ordained minister, professor, educator, lecturer, he is recognized nationally and around the world as an authority on the strategy on nonviolent social change.