We would like to inform you that our Keynote Speaker for the 2019 Banquet, Legendary Civil Rights Leader Diane Nash has a conflict and is now unable to join us during this year’s banquet. She has agreed to come to Pittsburgh at a later date.
While we regret that Ms. Nash will not be with us we are delighted to announce that replacing her as Keynote Speaker is her fellow Civil Rights Leader Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, also a founding member of SNCC, aide to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and renowned proponent of nonviolence.
The Banquet will be held Sunday, May 19 at the Westin Convention Center. Doors open at 5:00 p.m., the program will begin promptly at 6:00 p.m.
Born in Tampa, FL Rev. Dr. Lafayette moved to Nashville in 1958 to attend American Baptist Theological Seminary. As a freshman, he began attending weekly meetings arranged by James Lawson, a representative of the Fellowship of Reconciliation who had contacted King during the Montgomery bus boycott. Throughout 1958 and 1959, in partnership with Nashville’s SCLC affiliate, Lawson taught nonviolence techniques to Lafayette and his fellow Nashville students, including John Lewis, James Bevel, and Diane Nash.
Energized by Lawson’s classes and a weekend retreat at the Highlander Folk School, Lafayette and his friends began conducting sit-ins at segregated restaurants and businesses in 1959. When Ella Baker, under the auspices of SCLC, organized a conference of students on Easter weekend in 1960, Lafayette attended this conference that gave birth to SNCC. In 1962 Lafayette became the director of SNCC’s Alabama Voter Registration Project. The following February, he and his wife, Colia, began running voter registration clinics in Selma, Alabama.
Lafayette received his MEd from Harvard University in 1972 and a doctorate in 1974. He served as a scholar in residence at the King Center. After teaching at several universities, he was named president of his alma mater, American Baptist Theological Seminary, in 1993. He later became the director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island.