Fall Convocation: Colman McCarthy, Is Peace Possible?

Colman McCarthyTuesday, October 31, 2017
11:10 a.m.
"Is Peace Possible?"
Colman McCarthy

Award-winning journalist, educator and long-time peace activist, Colman McCarthy directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C., which he founded in 1985.

The son of an immigration lawyer and a stay-at-home mother who often welcomed refugees straight from Ellis Island into their home, McCarthy spent nearly 30 years as a columnist for the Washington Post. Since 1999, he has written a weekly column for The National Catholic Reporter.

As an educator who believes if we don’t teach children peace, someone else will teach them violence, McCarthy has taught courses on nonviolence and peace literature for more than 30 years. He is the author of 14 books, including 2002’s “I’d Rather Teach Peace” in which he chronicles his experiences introducing the theory and practice of creative peacemaking to classrooms ranging from a suburban Washington, D.C. high school to a prison for juveniles to Georgetown University Law Center.

McCarthy earned a bachelor’s degree from Spring Hill College, a small Jesuit school in Mobile, Ala.

His appearance is supported by the Class of 1968 Peace and Social Activism Fund.

About the Class of 1968 Peace and Social Activism Fund and Committee

On the occasion of our 25th reunion (1993) the Class of 1968 established a fund to help educate future generations of students about issues related to peace and social activism. Specifically, the fund supports individual or collaborative projects by students and faculty that address these issues in a historical or contemporary context from a local, regional, national, or global perspective. Examples of the issues and topics that are addressed through these projects include the prevention of conflict, non-aggression, race, gender, ethnic identity, religious tolerance, and the environment.

The fund will perpetually support student initiatives around peace and social activism to bring focused and challenging discussions to campus.  It currently has a balance of $60,200 and over the years has supported at least 37 projects. Our class gift has had a telling impact in the Lawrence community. Still, the need for discussions of peace and for social activism continues. All continents face conflict and according to the UN the world has the largest number of refugees since World War II.

The era in which we attended Lawrence was tumultuous for the nation and touched all of our lives in one way or another. The Viet Nam war was the most intrusive, divisive, and powerful event of our generation. Future plans were put on hold, and anxieties about the war in general --and how it would affect each of us in particular -- were not unusual and when the era drew to a close it left a national shrine, the Viet Nam Memorial. 58,282 names are inscribed on the cold marble. It is a hushed place, a sacred place - a place where grown men (and women) weep and keep vigil.

Many wish there had been peace then and peace now. One of the motivations for our committee’s founding was to bring someone to Lawrence to speak on the topic of peace – a goal which was never brought to fruition until now. We want the students and members of the Lawrence community to hear about peace, a topic in need of much more discussion.


Social activism on college campuses is at levels not seen since we attended in the 1960s, which makes the timing of the convocation so relevant.

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