Can society defeat issues like division between races, hatred and violations of human rights by simply ignoring it or by becoming educated?
On Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. in Reardon Auditorium, Peace and Conflict Transformation (PACT) will be holding a lecture about reconciliation presented by speaker Mark Charles.
According to the AU PACT web page, “The ongoing PACT lecture series is an opportunity to hear from those who have devoted their lives to educating others on matters of forgiveness and reconciliation as well as those who educate us on injustice and oppression throughout the world.”
Charles grew up on a Navajo reservation, but saw a divide between the Native Americans and the rest of the U.S., so he left the reservation to bridge the gap between the two groups.
He is the founder and director of the organization 5 Small Loaves, consults with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, is on the board of Christian Community Development Association and writes for the well-known blog “Reflections from the Hogan.”
Charles will be speaking about the history of the relationship between the U.S. government and the Native American people, racialism, imperialism and reconciliation from the perspective of a Native.
PACT is directed and organized by Professor Thomas Tijerina.
Tijerina teaches the classes for the PACT minor and feels passionately about what it has to offer students, and potentially, the world.
“There was a Native-American presence in Anderson, and the town was named after Chief Anderson,” Tijerina said.
He believes the connection between the history of Anderson and the topic Charles will be speaking on will be an interesting and eye-opening experience for the audience.
“This will be an awakening for most people,” he said.
Charles will be speaking in a couple of Tijerina’s PACT classes during the day in addition to his speech in Reardon that evening.
The PACT lecture series began as a once per semester chapel that was about social injustices and the testimonies of those who overcame them.
The chapel was led by a speaker who would emphasize the importance of social injustices and forgiveness.
Tijerina started this lecture series as a way to educate people about social injustices and bringing the Anderson community and the AU students closer together.
“I wanted to do something that was going to allow our community to come and learn beside students,” Tijerina said. “I just thought it would be nice to have something both students and the community could go to.”
Tijerina’s first PACT lecture speaker was a former neo-nazi who spoke about his story and how his hatred for people turned into embracing racial and cultural diversity.
Over the course of the lecture series, Tijerina has also had guest speakers Reverend Sharon Risher, Zak Ebrahim, who was the son of terrorist and assassin El Sayyid Nosair, war journalist Haider Newmani and Arneo Michaelis, all of whom discussed their pasts and how they overcame their personal struggles.
In order to make the speakers more relatable to AU’s group of culturally diverse students, Tijerina’s main goal is to find speakers who do not traditionally speak to the student body.
“When I first started the lecture series, I wanted everyone to know that that was my attitude going into this,” Tijerina said. “Sharon Risher is a baptist pastor of the Christian faith, Haider Newmani is a Muslim, Zak Ebrim is the son of a terrorist who is an atheist. I talked with them all and made sure they would say it on stage.”
At this time, Tijerina is unsure about the next speaker, but does intend to have more PACT lecture sessions during the spring semester.
The lecture will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Reardon Auditorium and will be open to all students, faculty and staff, as well as the Anderson community.
PACT will also be holding a chapel on Thursday, Nov. 8 with speaker Matt Conner. More about Charles, his backstory and his written works can be found by visiting www.sojo.net/biography/mark-charles.