WRITTEN BY ZANNA SHAPIRO
SFC’s 5th Annual Dr. Francis J. Greene Honors Lecture featured Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee in Founders Hall on Tuesday, October 25. Gbowee protested for peace in Liberia during their civil war. She was a member of multiple peace activist organizations and movements, and she even founded a few of her own.
Prior to her lecture, she received a warm introduction by Dr. Sara Rzeszutek-Haviland and was given a hearty welcome by Dr. John Dilyard, both Professors at SFC.
Gbowee’s opening statement discussed modern day protests.”When you look left, right…protests are taking place everywhere,” she said.
She then proceeded to tell the audience about her experience in Israel. In Israel, Palestinian and Jewish women put their differences aside and got together in protest for peace. They protested in front of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s home for fifty days, fasting and praying together. Similar to the women in Liberia, the women in Israel marched for two weeks in attempts to bring peace.
Despite the fact that throughout history, people of different races, ethnicities, and religions have united in the name of peace, Gbowee asked, “[This world] is in a place where people seem to be so aware [of racism, discrimination, prejudice]…[so] why does it seem like all the things that we hate [are] taking over?…Why is it that we can’t seem to get it together?”
After elaborating on the above-mentioned rhetorical questions, Gbowee transitioned to the topic of stereotypes. She claimed that people interact with others based on how they have been socialized to see them. She said, “You know a lot, but you don’t know a damn thing…and…by knowing everything that you know, you’re…driving people apart rather than bringing them closer together. It is a sad thing.”
Gbowee then provided the audience with several wise quotes: “The stranger that asks questions never loses,” and, “[One should protest] ignorance by seeking knowledge.”
In regards to the protests we often see making headlines in the United States, Gbowee said that before you protest, you should work on yourself as a person; healers have to be healed in order to help others. She concluded by declaring that protests are better if we let go of the detrimental things that hold us back, and, she closed with a poignant statement: “I see your humanity, do you see mine?”
Gbowee gave a powerful and emotional lecture, and received a standing ovation from the audience.