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Racial reconciliation advocate to deliver Kenner Lecture

Charles Villa-Vicencio

Charles Villa-Vicencio, a senior research fellow in the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa, will deliver the 2009 Kenner Lecture next week in the Zoellner Arts Center.

Villa-Vicencio’s address, titled “Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes: Does the South African Settlement Have Anything to Teach the World?,” will begin at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 22, in Baker Hall.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Villa-Vicencio is a noted proponent of racial equality in Africa. He founded the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in 2000 and served eight years as its executive director. He is now a visiting professor in the Conflict Resolution Program at Georgetown University.

“The Kenner Lecture is supposed to be about greater understanding between peoples, cultures and religions, so Prof. Villa-Vicencio is ideal for the event,” says Ben Wright, professor and department chair of religion studies and organizer of the lecture.

“Here is a person who has been actively involved in working to achieve justice in conflict-torn regions without having sides resort to retributive violence. Prof. Villa-Vicencio is seeking peace with justice that will last.”

Villa-Vicencio served previously as the national research director in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which sought to rebuild post-apartheid South African society through reconciliation and not retribution. By the end of its hearings, the Commission had taken statements from more than 20,000 victims of apartheid and had received applications for amnesty from 7,100 perpetrators of violence.

His forthcoming book, scheduled for release in October 2009, is titled Walk with Us and Listen: Political Reconciliation in Africa, with a forward by Bishop Desmond Tutu.

The Kenner Lecture was established in 1997 by Jeffrey L. Kenner ’65, who holds degrees in industrial engineering and business. He is the president of Kenner & Company Inc., a New York-based private equity investment firm which he founded in 1986. Kenner served as a Lehigh trustee from 1995-2002 and has been a longtime member of Lehigh’s Asa Packer and Tower Societies.

Story by Tricia Long

Posted on Thursday, September 17, 2009

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