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Campus News / News

President Head to host community dialog, “Connect2Peace: Make Gentle the Life of this World”

09/01/2015 10:44 am

Contact: Rita Elliott, Director of Communications, 815-226-3374


President Robert L. Head, Ph.D., will host and facilitate a panel discussion on race relations issues and how we, as a community, walk the line between justice, protest and violence. Panel participants include; Hester Bass, author of Seeds of Freedom, the Peaceful Integration of Huntsville Alabama; Reverend Joseph Darby, presiding elder of the Beaufort District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC and where nine members of Emanuel AME were murdered in June of this year; Michael Perry, Ph.D., associate professor of English at Rockford University and John McNamara, senior development officer for the University and former Mayor of Rockford (1981-1989).

The event will take place on Wednesday, September 16 at 7 p.m. in Maddox Theatre, located in the Clark Arts Center on Rockford University’s campus and is also part of the Fall Forum Series. Tickets are free, but reservations are required through the box office at or 815-226-4100. Clark Arts Center is accessible.

Dr. Head will lead a dialog to focus on events from the 1960s and the current era, probing lessons from history, exploring the ingredients that distinguish peaceful protest on significant grievances from riot and destruction. The panel will discuss the peaceful integration of Huntsville, Alabama during the 1960s, as well as the national and local crisis of April 1968 resulting in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Helping to give additional context to the evening is the speech given by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy on the night of Dr. King’s assassination, and the orchestral piece composed by Ray Horton, Make Gentle the Life of This World, inspired by RFK’s speech on April 4, 1968, which will be played.

These lessons from the 60s are ever so applicable today during heightened racial tensions erupting across our country in places such as Ferguson, Missouri and Charleston, South Carolina; with violence breaking out in Ferguson but being courageously quelled in places like Charleston.

The conversation is the second annual Connect2Peace Forum event hosted by Rockford University President Robert Head and presented in partnership with the Peace Coalition of the Rock River Valley and Connect2Peace.

Panel Participants

Hester_bass_photo-125x145 RevDarby_LATimesphoto-221x136 Michael Perry

John McNamara

Hester Bass Rev. Joseph Darby Dr. Michael Perry John McNamara