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
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