Audience members attending the 31st annual Westheimer Peace Symposium Oct. 5 — either in-person or virtually — will have an opportunity to take a deep dive into the relationship between nonviolence and social justice.
This year’s program is titled “Build a Just World: A Toolbox for Nonviolent Social Change.”
One of Wilmington College’s signature events, the symposium will feature a day-long interchange between George Lakey, a pioneering Quaker sociologist and peace activist, and Amaha Sellassie, a Dayton-area sociologist and social justice activist. They will present the day’s sessions, both individually and collectively.
The in-person program will be held under a tent on Collett Mall in the interior of the campus. Audience members are required to where facial coverings and physical distance in this venue. Registration for both in-person and Zoom attendance is available at: <https://libguides.wilmington.edu/westheimer2021/justworld>.
Lakey will give the initial presentation at 9:40 a.m. titled “What Is Nonviolence and Why Does It Matter?” He will address the meaning of nonviolence and the relationship between peace and nonviolence. Sellassie will follow with an 11:20 a.m. lecture on “What Is Social Justice and Why Does It Matter?” He will address the meaning of social justice and its relationship to peace.
Lakey and Sellassie will team at 2:40 p.m., for an interactive dialogue, “How Do We Create Just Communities?” in which they will discuss the specific knowledge, skills and tools needed to accomplish this lofty goal.
The audience will have an opportunity to reflect upon nonviolence and social justice through music and poetry at 4:30 p.m. when poet/professor Furaha Henry-Jones and the band, Speaking of Peace, will ask their listeners to consider how music and poetry can be tools of just, nonviolent social change.
Lakey and Sellassie will again co-present in an interactive dialogue highlighting “A Toolbox for Nonviolent Social Change: Wilmington and Beyond at 6 p.m. They will build upon their previous discussions by detailing specific knowledge, skills and tools needed to build just communities — starting with the Wilmington community.
The symposium will culminate with an in-person only event featuring an outdoor concert by folk musicians Zak Wilkerson, from 8 to 8:30 p.m.; Possessed by Paul James, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.; and the bluegrass-inspired, Ohio River Valley string band troubadours The Tillers, from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. As with the day’s programs under the tent, masking and physical distancing are required at the concert.
In the event of inclement weather, provisions will be made for appropriate program venues.
Complementing the symposium, the Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center at WC will present a gallery exhibit highlighting the life testimony to nonviolence, peace and social justice embodied by the late Professor Emeritus Larry Gara. The exhibit is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Westheimer Peace Symposium, established in 1991 by an endowment from Charles and May Westheimer, is an annual event with four rotating themes: Peace and Nonviolence; Peace and Social Justice; Peace and the Environment; and Peace and the Nature of War. As a result, it is a key reflection of Wilmington College’s Quaker heritage and its core values of peace, social justice, respect for all persons and integrity.
Submitted by Randall Sarvis, senior director of public relations, Wilmington College.