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Civil Rights Leader Brings Non-Violence Message To Rochester

Randy Gorbman

A longtime civil rights leader is bringing his message of non-violence to the Rochester area this week. The Reverend Bernard Lafayette spoke Monday afternoon at the Central Library.

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The library was just one of the stops that Lafayette is making. He's in Rochester through Wednesday and his activities also include conducting a two-day training workshop for teens, talking about non-violence and how to fight racism.

Lafayette has a long history in dealing with those issues, including co-founding the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1960.  He believes that young people should be taught about non-violent strategies while they're in school.

"We teach them math, we teach them language, but the thing that will help us survive is learning how to deal with conflict, because these are the things, the inability to deal with conflict destroys our children at an early age. "

This is not Lafayette's first visit to Rochester. He was here 50 years ago, along with other civil rights leaders in the aftermath of the 1964 race riots. He says there is still a lot of work to do across the country in terms of civil rights, but he's excited by what he's seen so far in Rochester in terms of non-violence projects and other efforts involving people of all kinds of ethnic groups.    

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.