The Eighth Annual Vanderhaar Symposium will focus on peacemaking at home, as a distinguished panel of community organizers explores a variety of ways to confront issues that threaten to divide us and create injustice. Four local panelists will address issues regarding immigration, gang violence, racism, labor rights and other challenges at the Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium, held Thursday, March 14, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. in the Spain Auditorium at Christian Brothers University. The program, entitled “Communities Engaged in Resolving Urban Social Conflict,” will discuss steps to bring positive change to our neighborhoods, city, county, nation and the world.
The format this year features local leaders whose daily work impacts the community.
Panelist include Delvin Lane, leader of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton’s Gang Violence Prevention Team; Gabriela Benitez, coordinator of the West Tennessee’s Immigration and Refugee Coalition; Malik Shaw, Vice Principal of Pleasant View Islamic School and co-founder of the American Muslim Intercultural Network; and Kyle Kordsmeier, Organizing Director of the Workers Interfaith Network.
“These are individuals who are doing creative, nonviolent work in our community in the areas of peace and justice,” said Janice Vanderhaar, who chairs the symposium committee. “We decided to focus in on labor rights, immigration, Muslim work with youth and gang violence, as these affect our community directly.”
Each year, a Mid-South university student is recognized with the Dr. Gerard A. Vanderhaar Student Peace Award, given to a student who best exemplifies the spirit and practice of nonviolence consistent with Dr. Vanderhaar’s life and work. Franklin Dakin, a junior at Rhodes College, will be presented with this year’s award.
Dakin, a participant in the Bonner Scholarship program at Rhodes, helped develop the pilot program BRIDGES change, and served as one of its first intern coordinators. Last year he successfully campaigned to become the youngest alderman ever elected in the city of Millington, Tenn., and is currently the state’s youngest elected official.
A reception in the Montesi Room following the program will honor Dakin along with previous Vanderhaar Peace Laureates.
The Vanderhaar Symposium was founded in honor of Dr. Gerard A. Vanderhaar, a professor of religion for 28 years at Christian Brothers University, who spent his lifetime promoting peace and active nonviolence.
The Symposium is free and open to the public. For more information visit www.gvanderhaar.org.