The halls were filled with music, laughter, tears and intense discussions on March 26 in Lipkin Theatre. It was NCC’s fifth annual Peace and Justice Conference, and the guest of honor was famed American folk singer Peter Yarrow. Originally of the group “Peter, Paul, and Mary”, Yarrow was the highlight of the event centered on promoting peace, unity, and diversity.
The event started off with table-side presentations from a variety of groups ranging from national organizations including the League of Women Voters, community activist groups and NCC students.
Andrew Folmsbee, general studies, was presenting an exhibit examining the state of American prisons.
“It’s taking a look at incarceration rates, comparing the disparity between African-American and Caucasian inmates, and trying to understand why that disparity is so high. However, the goal isn’t to simply rattle off statistics but to look towards future remedies. It focuses on education for both during imprisonment and post-incarceration.”
Other events included a pair of workshops hosted by David Smith entitled “Peacebuilding Strategies to Promote Diversity: Lessons from Ferguson”, and the showing of a documentary about Seeds of Peace, a summer camp in Maine with the mission of uniting Israeli and Palestinian youth and promoting peace between the two cultures.
The highlight of the day was Yarrow’s performance. When the audience wasn’t brimming with tears or laughter, they were clapping and singing along to classics such as “Blowing in the Wind”, “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane” and others. In addition, he sang “Don’t Laugh at Me”, the anthem for his anti-bullying group Operation Respect.
No visit would be complete without performing Yarrow’s own classic “Puff the Magic Dragon”. Kids, teens, and young adults (as Yarrow put it, anyone under 25) gathered on stage with him to join in as they sang to a joyous audience in the theatre.
When asked how he felt about coming to NCC, Yarrow smiled and said, “I think the people were very welcoming and caring and enthusiastic. They once again feel hopeful, like they always do when I play my music.”