University of Rochester

M.K. Gandhi Institute Celebrates A Season for Nonviolence

January 7, 2011

Lectures with Naomi Tutu, Kathy Kelly among Events Planned

From Jan. 30 through April 4, a series of events will educate community members about how to apply nonviolent practices in everyday life and encourage individuals and organizations to identify new ways to solve some of Rochester's most pressing problems.

Planned by the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester, along with a host of community partners, A Season for Nonviolence is the nationally celebrated 64-day period between the memorial anniversaries of the assassinations of Mohandas K. Gandhi on Jan. 30 and of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4. Launched in 1998 at the United Nations, the Season is a time to reflect upon the nonviolent practices of Gandhi and King. This year, Rochester will be one of almost 400 communities to participate.

In addition to lectures, an art exhibit, and a special dinner, the institute is working with the City of Rochester and its surrounding schools to set up a daily presence at the Liberty Pole, with the goal of creating opportunities for learning, community, and fellowship. The center of recent controversy, the Liberty Pole has been a popular hang-out for youth and others, says Kit Miller, director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute. She hopes that the daily observances of nonviolence at the site will contribute to a positive atmosphere there.

"We hope that youth are able to connect with what we are offering and begin to participate in the organizations that sponsor each day's observance," she says.

Throughout the Season, the traveling art exhibit Americans Who Tell the Truth will be on display at the Central Library Link Gallery and Monroe Community College's Damon City Campus. Created by artist Robert Shetterly, Americans Who Tell the Truth is a collection of portraits of leaders and activists, who, according to the artists' website, can "remind us of the dignity, courage and importance of some of America's truth tellers" and create a dialogue about "which truths we value most as citizens in a democracy." Portraits include the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriett Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and Rosa Parks, as well as contemporary activists Kathy Kelly and Noam Chomsky.

On Feb. 27, peace activist and three-time Nobel Prize nominee Kathy Kelly will deliver a speech as a part of the M.K. Gandhi Institute's Distinguished Lecture Series. Kelly, whose portrait also will be on display as a part of the Americans Who Tell the Truth collection, will discuss her work with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, an organization that seeks to end American involvement in war.

In an effort to engage youth in Rochester, the M.K. Gandhi Institute is sponsoring an essay contest centered on the exhibit as well. Open to high school students across Monroe County, the contest encourages students to visit the Americans Who Tell the Truth exhibit and reflect on the meaning of truth telling and nonviolence. Winners will receive cash awards and will be invited to the Interfaith Celebration Banquet on April 2. More details about the contest can be found by e-mailing

A Season for Nonviolence will wrap up with two events featuring Nontombi Naomi Tutu. The daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Tutu has been an advocate for human rights, peace, and equality. At the University of Cape Town, Tutu served as a coordinator for the Race and Gender and Gender-Based Violence in Education program at the African Gender Institute and has taught at the University of Hartford, the University of Connecticut, and Brevard College. Tutu also serves as a consultant to two human rights organizations, the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence and the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa. During her two-day visit, Tutu will attend the interfaith banquet on Saturday, April 2, and will give a keynote lecture on Sunday, April 3. Tutu's lecture will focus on the importance of community and the need to understand how our actionsóor inactionsócan affect those around us. She draws upon the teachings of Dr. King and her South African heritage to weave a message of shared humanity and the power of change.

A Season for Nonviolence is sponsored by the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. University partners include the Frederick Douglas Institute, Rochester Center for Community Leadership, Women's Caucus, and Interfaith Chapel. Community sponsors include the Greater Rochester Community of Churches, Rochester AmeriCorps, Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, Monroe Community College Damon City Campus, St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Veterans for Peace, Education for Peace, Art Peace, Center for Interfaith Dialogue and Peace & Justice Studies at Nazareth College, Rochester Area Mennonite Fellowship, and Rochester Against War, among others. A full list of events can be found at

A Season for Nonviolence Events at a Glance:

A Season for Nonviolence Proclamation Celebration
Monday, Jan. 31, noon, Liberty Pole
City and county officials, joined by local faith leaders and Season sponsors, will deliver proclamations officially recognizing the Season in the City of Rochester and Monroe County.

Liberty Pole Daily Observance of Nonviolence
Weekdays, Monday, Jan. 31, through Friday, April 1, noon to 12:30 p.m., Liberty Pole From musical performances to inspirational readings, different activities will be woven into each day's observance. Free and open to the public.

Art Exhibit: Americans Who Tell the Truth
Feb. 7 through Feb. 25, Central Library Link Gallery
Feb. 28 through March 8, Monroe Community College Damon City Campus Atrium
Americans Who Tell the Truth is a collection of portraits of Americans by Brooksville, Maine artist Robert Shetterly. The exhibit is free to the public and on display at each location during regular business hours.

Robert Shetterly, Gandhi Distinguished Lecturer
Friday, Feb. 25, 4:30 p.m., Central Library Link Gallery
Friday, Feb. 25, 7 p.m., Pittsford Plaza Barnes & Noble
Americans Who Tell the Truth artist Robert Shetterly discusses his motivation behind creating the portrait series.

Kathy Kelly, Gandhi Distinguished Lecturer
Sunday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m., Interfaith Chapel on Rochester's River Campus
Kelly will discuss her work as a peace activist with the organization Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

Lecture and Workshops with Nonviolence Expert Arthur Romano
Friday, March 18, through Sunday, March 20, times and locations TBA
For more than a decade, Arthur Romano has worked as a nonviolence trainer, teaching conflict resolution, nonviolent leadership, and peace education. While in Rochester, Romano will give a lecture that offers insights into the visions of both Gandhi and King, while discussing their work for peace. He also will host two workshops focused on youth justice and nonviolence.

Naomi Tutu, Keynote Speaker and Gandhi Distinguished Lecturer
Sunday, April 3, 4 p.m., Strong Auditorium on Rochester's River Campus Presenting the lecture, Our Shared Humanity: Creating Understanding through the Principles of MLK, Naomi Tutu draws upon her life experiences to discuss the importance of human rights, peace, and equality.