Lifelong nonviolent activist and educator George Lakey is the recipient of the 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize from the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). For 50 years, Lakey has led social change campaigns on local, national, and international levels, and over 1500 workshops on five continents.
"Though I never met him personally, Dr. King was a mentor to me in a sense," says Lakey, who will begin an unprecedented third year as the College's Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues in Social Change this fall. "I hung on his every word."
Lakey will receive the award when he gives the keynote address at FOR's 50th annual conference in Seabeck, Wash., on July 4. He will be honored at a second ceremony at FOR's New York headquarters in September.
As Lang Professor, Lakey advises students, conducts research, and leads workshops at Swarthmore, as well as at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, the University of Pennsylvania, and in Chester, Pa. This year, he gave a campus-wide address as part of the College's King Day celebration. Next spring, he will repeat his popular course, "Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism," as part of the College's offerings in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Lakey is the author of seven books and his work has been translated into at least six languages. His first arrest was for a civil rights sit-in in Chester and he co-authored A Manual for Direct Action, which was widely used in the South in the 1960s. Other titles include Powerful Peacemaking: A Strategy for a Living Revolution and Grassroots and Nonprofit Leadership: A Guide for Organizations in Changing Times. He previously received the Paul Robeson Award for Social Justice from the Bread and Roses Community Fund and the national Giraffe Award for "sticking his neck out for the public good." Two of his public talks, Swarthmore's 2008 Baccalaureate address and his lecture "Making Nonviolent Struggle More Powerful: Framing Strategies," are available at www.swarthmore.edu.
Since 1915, FOR, a national pacifist organization in which Dr. King was active, has conducted programs and educational projects concerned with domestic and international peace and justice, nonviolent alternatives to conflict, and the rights of conscience. A part of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, it established the King Peace Prize in 1979 to honor those who make a significant contribution to the furtherance of Dr. King's non-violent approach to transforming racial, economic, and social injustices.