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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Bernard LaFayette oral history project

Repository: University of Rhode Island. Special Collections and Archives

Collection Description (CRHP): This extended oral history of an unsung hero of the civil rights movement was done with the thought that these sessions might become the basis of an autobiography by Dr. LaFayette. Inspired by David Halberstam's book The Children on the Nashville sit-in participants, Findlay asked questions not only about LaFayette's activism during the civil rights era but also about his work for nonviolence and social justice after that time. This interview provides a unique perspective into an individual who not only espoused nonviolence during the civil rights era but also went on to make a career out of it. LaFayette has established nonviolence centers in Columbia, the Middle East, South Asia, the Philippines, and South Africa, and he continues to direct a nonviolence institute at the University of Rhode Island, which trains police forces and others.

Collection Description (Extant): Contains video recordings and transcripts of an oral history given by Bernard LaFayette. The interviews were conducted by Prof. James Findlay at the University of Rhode Island over the course of ten recording sessions from 2002-2003.

Bernard LaFayette, Jr. has been a Civil Rights Movement activist, minister, educator, lecturer, and is an authority on the strategy on nonviolent social change. He was one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. He was a leader of the Nashville Movement, 1960 and on the Freedom Rides, 1961 and the 1965 Selma Movement. He directed the Alabama Voter Registration Project in 1962, and he was appointed National Program Administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor Peoples' Campaign by Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition, Dr. LaFayette has served as Director of Peace and Justice in Latin America; Chairperson of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development; Director of the PUSH Excel Institute; and minister of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tuskegee, Alabama. An ordained minister, Dr. LaFayette earned his B.A. from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, and his Ed.M. and Ed.D from Harvard University. He has served on the faculties of Auguatana College(Souix Falls, SD), Columbia Theological Seminary (Atlanta, GA) and Alabama State University (Montgomery), where he was Dean of the Graduate School; he also was principal of Tuskegee Institute High School in Tuskegee, Alabama and a teaching fellow at Harvard University. His publications include the Curriculum and Training Manual for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Nonviolent Community Leadership Training Program, his doctoral thesis, Pedagogy for Peace and Nonviolence, and Campus Ministries and Social Change in the '60's (Duke Divinity Review) and The Leaders Manual: A Structured Guide and Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence with David Jehnsen. Bernard LaFayette has traveled extensively to many countries as a lecturer and consultant on peace and nonviolence. Dr. LaFayette is a former President of the American Baptist College of ABT Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee; Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia; and Pastor emeritus of the Progressive Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the Founder and National President of God-Parents Clubs, Inc., a national community based program aimed at preventing the systematic incarceration of young Black youth; a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and founder of the Association For Kingian Nonviolence, Education and Training Works. Dr. LaFayette is currently a Distinguished-Scholar-in-Residence and Director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island. He is the chairperson for the International Nonviolence Executive Planning Board. He has been re-appointed by Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri as the chairman for the Rhode Island Select Commission on Race and Police-Community Relations. A native of Tampa, Florida, Dr. LaFayette is married to the former Kate Bulls.

Access Copy Note: The materials include VHS tapes of the interviews; mini DV tapes of the interviews taken from various camera angles and the final mix of the interviews. The interviews are available at the repository and online. Transcripts of the interviews accompany the collection in physical and digital copies. An index for the interviews is available in the repository.

Date(s): 2003-2006

Digital Status: Partial

Existing IDs: Mss. Gr. 123

Extent: 1 box (1 linear foot); transcripts (physical and digital); index for the interviews; mini DV digital video cassettes of 15 mixed and 46 unmixed recordings (transferred to 9 VHS tapes); 9 VHS tapes duplicated into digital WMV files

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Interviewees: Bernard LaFayette

Rights (Extant): Open for research. Terms governing use and reproduction: Photocopying and scanning of materials is a fee based service available in the repository and is allowed at the discretion of the Archivist when in compliance to the Unit's policy on copyright and


African American churches
African Americans--Education
Civil rights demonstrations
Civil rights movements--Alabama
Civil rights movements--Tennessee
Civil rights--Illinois
Daley, Richard J., 1902-1976
Freedom Rides, 1961
Jackson, Jesse, 1941-
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Lawson, James M., 1928-
Peace movements
Poor People's Campaign
School integration
Selma (Ala.)
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
Voter registration--Alabama




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   September 26, 2018
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