Nobel laureate to walk and talk here for peace

Wednesday, April 06, 2005By Lynn Turner 388-8564

A woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end the conflict in Northern Ireland headlines two free, open activities at Western Michigan University this weekend.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who was named a Nobel laureate in 1976, is to speak at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the East Ballroom of the Bernhard Center, on WMU's main Kalamazoo campus. A question-and-answer session will follow the talk, titled "Building a New Culture of Nonviolence for the Human Family." Maguire's appearance is part of this weekend's 2005 Great Lakes PeaceJam Youth Conference.

On Saturday, Maguire is to take part in a one-mile march around downtown Kalamazoo that begins and ends at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, at Rose Street and West Harkins Court. The theme of the march is "Many Paths, One People: A March for the Human Family."

The activity is a collaboration of efforts by PeaceJam, an international education program built around Nobel Peace laureates who personally work with youth to inspire peacemakers; Kalamazoo Public Library's "Reading Together" program; and Rotary International's "Walking Together" program.

The two events, dubbed, "The Talk" and "The Walk," are meant to highlight Maquire's efforts to uphold the value of the human family, organizers said.

"Somehow we must rise above those ideas that divide us so that we may begin to work together and understand the most important identity that we have: We are the human family," Maguire is quoted as saying. "Surely what we have in common is more important that what divides us. ... Each of us is more important than the flags and the religions, and, somehow, we must rise above these things that have kept us so divided."

Maguire began her involvement in the peace process during Northern Ireland's "troubles," a time of intense sectarian violence. Her leadership role grew after two of her nephews and one of her nieces were killed in Belfast after being struck by an out-of-control car that had been driven by an Irish Republican Army gunman who had been shot to death by a British Army patrol.

After the 1976 deaths, Maguire, peace price co-recipient Betty Williams and journalist Ciaran McKeown organized a series of peace marches throughout the United Kingdom in which thousands of Catholics and Protestants marched together.

The PeaceJam Youth Conference, being held Saturday and Sunday at WMU, is expected to attract more than 200 participants between the ages of 14 and 18 from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. Those taking part in the conference are to spend time with Maguire and explore various issues of peace and violence and report on their own plans to address those issues.

© 2005 Kalamazoo. Used with permission

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