Audio of the Webinar is available on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/charterforcompassion/mlk-teach-in
Profile of Presentors and Moderator
Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley
Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley is a legendary “warrior/prophet” minister who, for more than a quarter of a century, has not only transcended his Christian faith and his Providence Missionary Baptist Church pulpit, but has embraced and encouraged an entire generation of Atlanta’s unique brand of civil and human rights-based leadership. The nearly one thousand distinguished leaders and lay people spanning all faiths and spectrum's of civil society present at his recent retirement celebration on August 4, 2012 proved to be an outpouring of testimony, richly heralding that extraordinary, almost indefinable leadership quality and energy that is so uniquely Gerald Durley’s.
Dr. Gerald L. Durley was born in Wichita, Kansas. He grew up in California and graduated from high school in Denver, Colorado. Being endowed with exceptional basketball skills and a deep interest in improving the civil and human rights of African Americans, Dr. Durley chose to leave the west and venture south to Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee.
While earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology, playing on a championship basketball team, and serving as student government president, he became very active in the civil rights movement. After graduating, Dr. Durley became one of the first Peace Corp volunteers to enter Nigeria, West Africa. From Africa he ventured to Switzerland where he enrolled in postgraduate studies at the University of Neuchantel. While there, he was invited to play for one of the Swiss National basketball teams.
When he returned to the United States, Dr. Durley enrolled in Northern Illinois University where he again became intensely involved in the struggle for human dignity, and earned one of the first Masters Degrees in Community Mental Health. He earned a Doctorate Degree in Urban Education and Psychology from University of Massachusetts and a Master of Divinity Degree from Howard University.
As the former Dean of Clark Atlanta University and the former director of the Health Promotion Resource Center of the Morehouse School of Medicine, Reverend Gerald Durley seeks to combine the disciplines of faith and science with the lessons learned as a civil rights advocate of the 1960’s. He believes that climate change, global warming, and environmental justice are moral imperatives, which he sees as a contemporary civil rights issue. He has worked with Interfaith Power and Light, the Sierra club, Eco-America, U.S. Climate Action Network, the Environmental Working Group, Green Law, Ambassadors for Clean Air, Moms Clean Air Force, and Waterkeeper Inc. Currently he is working to eradicate fluoride from toothpaste and drinking water, testifying before EPA on the clean power plan. Read Rev. Dr. Durley’s concept of how climate change relates to Civil Rights: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-dr-gerald-durley/climate-change-civil-rights_b_3844986.html
Rev. C.T. Vivian
Pres. Barack Obama, speaking at the occasion of the anniversary of Selma to Montgomery marches in March 2007 at Selma's Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, recognized Rev C.T. Vivian in his opening remarks, calling Vivian "the greatest preacher to ever live," echoing the in the words of Dr. Martin L. King Jr.
On August 8, 2013, Pres. Obama named Vivian as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. C. T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author, and organizer. A leader in the civil rights movement and friend to Dr. King, he participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins across our country. Vivian also helped found numerous civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal. In 2012, he returned to serve as interim president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Three times since 2000, Kathy Kelly has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1996 she helped to found Voices in the Wilderness, a group which bears witness to the suffering which the U.S./U.N.-imposed sanctions have visited upon the people—especially the children—of Iraq.
Profiled by Katie Watson in Hope magazine (May/June, 2003), Kelly traces her activism to her pious childhood on the South Side of Chicago. During high school she began to read about the Holocaust. “I remember thinking,” she told Watson,“that I never ever-ever-ever want to be the person who is trying to be an innocent bystander while something that awful goes on.”
After graduating from Loyola University and while still a graduate student at Chicago Theological Seminary, she volunteered at a soup kitchen run by a Catholic Worker House. This experience enabled her to relate the ideals derived from her studies to action. As a high-school English teacher as well as a committed anti-poverty worker, she encouraged her students to make the same connections between theory and practice.
Kelly moved from neighborhood poverty issues to advocacy of nonviolence on a global scale. For her participation in planting corn in the soil above nuclear missile silos, a symbolic act intended to demonstrate the peaceful use of land, she was sentenced to nine months in federal prison. She said she found her jail term to be a “liberating” experience because it helped her to face the fear of coercion.
Kathy Kelly is no stranger to coercion. For refusing to pay federal income taxes her teaching salary was garnisheed; for repeated visits to Iraq to distribute toys and medicine to children, she and her associates have incurred thousands of dollars in fines, along with threats of imprisonment. When she trespassed at Fort Benning, Georgia to protest the activities of the School of the Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2003, she was arrested, physically and verbally abused and sentenced to three months in federal prison. She accepts the consequences of her actions, determined to stand against what Martin Luther king Jr. has called “the violence of desperate men.”
During each of several recent trips to Afghanistan, Kathy Kelly, as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, has lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working class neighborhood in Kabul. She and her companions in Voices for Creative Nonviolence believe that “where you stand determines what you see.”
They are resolved not to let war sever the bonds of friendship between them and Afghan people whom they’ve grown to know through successive delegations. Kelly and her companions insist that the U.S. is not waging a “humanitarian war” in Afghanistan. Kelly has also joined with activists in various regions of the country to protest drone warfare by holding demonstrations outside of U.S. military bases in Nevada, upstate New York, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
During late June and early July of 2011, Kelly was a passenger on the “Audacity to Hope” as part of the US Boat to Gaza project. She also attempted to reach Gaza by flying from Athens to Tel Aviv, as part of the Welcome to Palestine effort, but the Israeli government deported her back to Greece. In 2009, she lived in Gaza during the final days of the Operation Cast Lead bombing; later that year, Voices formed another small delegation to visit Pakistan, aiming to learn more about the effects of U.S. drone warfare on the civilian population and to better understand consequences of U.S. foreign policy in Pakistan. She returned again to Gaza in November 2012 to meet with the survivors of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense and to hear their stories.
From 1996 – 2003, Voices activists formed 70 delegations that openly defied economic sanctions by bringing medicines to children and families in Iraq. Kathy and her companions lived in Baghdad throughout the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing. She was sentenced to one year in federal prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites (1988-89) and spent three months in prison, in 2004, for crossing the line at Fort Benning’s military training school. As a war tax refuser, she has refused payment of all forms of federal income tax since 1980. She and her companions at the Voices home/office in Chicago believe that non-violence necessarily involves simplicity, service, sharing of resources and non-violent direct action in resistance to war and oppression.
Other Lands Have Dreams: from Baghdad to Pekin Prison (2005) by Kathy Kelly is available through Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org) or Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 1249 West Argyle, Chicago, IL 60640 773-878-3815
“In a Time of Siege,” a Peace Productions DVD about Voices in the Wilderness, narrated by Studs Terkel, is available from the Voices for Creative Nonviolence office, 1249 West Argyle, Chicago, IL 60640 773-878-3815.