Tag Archives: Leymah Gbowee

UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies

Next week is a big one for the UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies Program. Not only will the 2014 Scholar be here, Justice Albie Sachs of South Africa, but three past Scholars will be at events for a reunion—including 2011 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Leymah Gbowee of Liberia. Albie Sachs fought against apartheid along side Nelson Mandela, who appointed Sachs to South Africa’s Constitution (or Supreme) Court after being elected President of South Africa. For a schedule of events, most of which are free and open to the public, visit www.uml.edu/greeley and click on events for the schedule.




Greeley Peace Scholar Events Coming Up @ UMass Lowell

Greeley Poster FINAL jpeg

Click on the poster to see a larger version. Don’t miss these events. This is a rare chance to hear from Justice Albie Sachs of South Africa (Nelson Mandela’s colleague in the struggle against apartheid), 2011 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, and other past Peace Scholars. These are inspiring individuals. All events are free and open to the public except the Wed. April 9 benefit event at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center ($75 per person).

Leymah Gbowee Carries Olympic Flag in Opening Ceremony: Nobel Peace Prize Recipient and 2011 UMass Lowell Greeley Peace Scholar

From the NYTimes:

Meanwhile, back at the stadium, the Olympic flag was carried along the track by eight humanitarians, including Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, and Leymah Gbowee, who shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Once they made a half-circuit of the stadium, they met a frail-looking Muhammad Ali, who did not move despite roars of support and visible instruction from Ali’s wife to grab the flag or wave.

Haile Gebrselassie and Leymah Gbowee - Olympics - Best of the Opening Ceremony

Leymah Gbowee is in the front row, third from left. Web photo courtesy of zimbio.com

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Web photo by Jim Bishop, courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University.

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize is a big deal. When I learned this morning that Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, now Ghana, had been awarded the Prize in a three-way share with two other women, the President of Liberia and a democracy activist from Yemen, I felt good for her—and excited because I know this person. I was fortunate enough to get to know her a little when she was in Lowell for three weeks last April, serving as UMass Lowell’s Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies. Each year the University invites an outstanding individual who has advanced the cause of peace and social justice for a multi-week residence on campus. Leymah organized women to use nonviolent tactics to oppose the tyrant Charles Taylor during a long civil war in Liberia. They forced fighters on both sides to resolve the conflict. We were able to reach Leymah through Kathy Reticker of our advisory committee, whose sister directed a film about Leymah’s peace-building work in Liberia, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” Kathy is the executive director of Acre Family Day Care.

The lesson I took from Leymah is that there are times in your life when you have to put yourself on the line. You have to risk what’s important to you when the cause is more important than your own comfort, your reputation, and even possibly your safety. She is a remarkly brave person of strong character. She was determined to do what she could to stop the killing in her nation’s civil war. She had the vision to imagine bringing together women of Christian and Muslim faiths in a mutual effort to stop the violence that was destroying the lives of their children. She was confident that the women she organized had more common sense and decency than the angry, hostile, power-hungry men who were fighting. Her movement, and she would be the first to say it was not all about her, made a difference and broke the pattern of conflict.

She stayed with us for about three weeks, living at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center with her young daughter. Her husband joined her at the end of her stay. She was generous with her time, and spoke in about a dozen settings on campus and in the area. Her daughter stayed during the day with one of the women who works for Acre Family Day Care. Kathy had arranged this. One day the woman who took care of the little girl told Leymah about a women’s shelter in the city where she volunteered. Leymah told her she would like to go there. It was the end of a busy day of meeting people and talking, but she insisted on going over to the shelter and meeting the women at the house. Her willingness to spend time with the women reveals a lot about her large spirit. As has been said, it’s what you do when nobody is watching that proves what kind of person you are.

A group of us at the university had lunch with her the day she arrived in Lowell. We were captivated by her accounts of the struggle in Liberia and the work she was doing at that very moment during the political and military crisis in the nearby country of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). She was trying to organize the women there the way it has worked in Liberia, but she was having trouble getting people to cooperate.

Sitting at the long table in the gallery at the Allen House, I remember thinking that this person has come to us from the front lines, from a war zone, from an unstable region where people are jailed or murdered for challenging the authorities. She projected a calmness and a self-assurance that was inspiring. She is articulate and knowledgeable, but down-to-earth at the same time. Another day at a lunch downtown she talked enthusiastically about NBA basketball. She knows the teams and rosters better than I do, following the games on satellite broadcasts in Africa.

Everyone who met her in Lowell was deeply impressed by her determination to help people resolve conflicts and live together without hurting one another. She spoke about reaching young people while their minds are still open to finding a better way to behave than resorting to violence to solve problems or gain advantages. We knew that we were in the presence of someone special. The Nobel Peace Prize announcement today confirmed that.

Leymah Gbowee, UMass Lowell Greeley Peace Scholar, on National Book Tour (NYTimes)


Leymah Gbowee, 2011 UMass Lowell Greeley Peace Scholar (web photo by Chester Higgins Jr. courtesy of nytimes.com)

Page one of “The Arts” in today’s New York Times includes Julie Bosman’s article about the upcoming book tour by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, the 2011 UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies who was in residence for three weeks last April. Leymah led a women’s movement that forced an end to a long civil war in Liberia in 2003. Titled “Mighty Be Our Powers,” the book is published by Beast Books, whose chief editor is Tina Brown of the Newsweek Daily Beast Company. The story is also told in the film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” which was shown here during Leymah’s visit. Her eight-city book tour is being funded by Barnes & Noble chairman Leonard Riggio. Read the article here, and get the Times on your porch or online if you want more.




Leymah Gbowee, UMass Lowell’s Greeley Peace Scholar

Everyone is invited to hear the acclaimed African peace activist Leymah Roberta Gbowee speak at UMass Lowell on Monday, April 4, at 12.30 pm, in the O’Leary Library Auditorium, Room 222, 61 Wilder Street, on UML’s South Campus. Parking is available in the Visitor Lot on Wilder.  She is the keynote speaker in the Day without Violence program of the UML Peace and Conflict Studies Institute.

Leymah is the 2011 UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies. In 2003, she organized a peace movment led by women of Christian and Muslim faiths. Ms. Gbowee is executive director of the Women’s Peace and Security Network of Africa, based in Ghana. In 2007, the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University’s JFK School of Government honored her with the Blue Ribbon Peace Award, and in 2009 she and women from Liberia collectively received the Profiles in Courage Award of the Kennedy Library in Boston. She is the central character in the award-winning documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” She will be at UMass Lowell for the first three weeks in April, meeting with students and faculty on campus and speaking to community groups in the region. For details on her events, visit uml.edu/artsandideas or the website of the UMass Lowell Peace and Conflict Studies Institute, which hosts the Greeley Scholar each year.