Human rights activist inspires students, faculty

By Tim Awojobi

Kean University had not only a visitor, but who some consider a hero, come to lecture to students. John Prendergast, human rights activist, set forth on coming to Kean University and shared his memorable life and experiences with students and faculty during the week of March.

Back in 2013, Prendergast’s appearance at Kean University’s annual Human Rights Conference was also very memorable.

“I want to focus on building a popular constituency for unsupportive human rights in Africa,” said Prendergast.

At Kean, Prendergast initially wanted the students to help support the creation of a “conflict free campus initiative.” This would set the pact and help promote peace in the Congo region of Africa through restricting or ceasing the use of conflict produced products.

“The reason why I am here for the second time is because I truly believe that Kean University students are committed to making a real impact in this university community,” said Prendergast, “and also throughout the world.”

Prendergast has worked in Africa for over 25 years in search of peace and humanity. During the early ‘90s Prendergast worked for numerous peace organizations in America and also Africa. When asked about life hardships while in Africa, Prendergast responded without hesitation.

“My biggest hardship was my life being threatened numerous times in Africa. I was in prison a couple of times, praying each and every day that they would let me out,” said Prendergast. “I also had a gun stuck in my mouth from protestors and civilians. My worst fear was probably a land mine that blew up right in front of my car.”

Prendergast never let the word, “fear” stop him from doing what he loves. During the course of the week at Kean University, Prendergast gave about five speeches, as well as having meals and conversations with numerous students.

A current biology major, Deliah Mahmoud, was amazed by the speech Prendergast presented to the crowd.

“I was really impressed with the level and spirit of dedication that Prendergast wanted to make the world a better place,” said Mahmoud.

Throughout the presentations, Prendergast also discussed his work with the late South African President, Nelson Mandela.

“Mandela personally taught me a great deal about how to broker peace,” said Prendergast.

Apart from being a human rights activist, Prendergast is also the Head/Co-Founder of the “Enough Project.” This is a non-profit human rights organization that was launched in early 2007 as a project of the Center for American Progress. The mission of this project is to support the end of genocide and hate crimes against humanity.

Prendergast is also noted as a best-selling author of 10 books about human rights crimes and justice. His book “The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa’s Worst Human Rights Crimes,” was ranked a New York Times bestseller and NAACP non-fiction book of the year.

When asked about what is the best advice to give some, Prendergast’s response was, “Don’t ever listen to people that say you cannot achieve the things you dream about.”


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