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Father Roy Bourgeois to Present Annual
Muste Lecture on on Thursday, Sept. 7

Posted August 28, 2000

HOLLAND -- Father Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest with the Maryknoll Missionary Order and founder and co- director of the School of the Americas Watch, will deliver the 16th A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture at Hope College on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 11 a.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Bourgeois is the founder of a movement that seeks to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas, a training school located at Fort Benning, Ga., for Latin American soldiers. He will present the address "Speaking the Truth to Power."

Bourgeois served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, receiving the Purple Heart. He entered seminary following his military service, and became ordained in 1972.

He subsequently became a missionary in Latin America, working with the poor and concerned with human rights issues. Critical of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, he founded the School of Americas Watch in 1990 to protest the school's role in training members of Latin American military forces. His organization asserts, as reported in the "San Francisco Examiner" in January of 1999, that at least one of every 100 of the school's 60,000 graduates has returned home "not to promote democracy, but to rape, kill, torture and participate in massacres."

He told the "Examiner," "The point is the reality in Latin America, one in which the majority of people struggle in poverty just to survive. For so long, Latin American militaries have been defending a socio-economic system that keeps the rich rich and the poor poor. And we (the United States) have helped them."

The School of Americas Watch is headquartered just outside the main entrance to Fort Benning, and organizes a non-violent protest demonstration outside the base each November in conjunction with the anniversary of the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests and two women in El Salvador. In 1999, approximately 12,000 participated in the demonstration, including nine students from Hope led by faculty member Dr. Jane Dickie, professor of psychology.

As a result of his non-violent protest work, Bourgeois has spent a total of more than three years in prison, most recently in 1998. He received the 1997 Pax Christi "Teacher of Peace Award" in 1997.

The A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture began in 1985 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of A.J. Muste, a 1905 graduate of Hope College. Muste went on to become one of the most well-known and influential peace activists in the United States, working for many years as the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The lecture series seeks to explore issues that would have been of interest to Muste, who died in 1967, including topics related to labor, civil rights and peace.

The Maas Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.

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