Human Rights Book Club discusses African genocide

By: Rebecca Panico

Kean’s Human Rights Institute hosted its first monthly book club in the Green Lane Barnes & Noble bookstore on Feb. 3 to discuss “The Enough Moment” by New York Times Bestselling Author and activist John Prendergast.

Prendergast is the Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senior Fellow at Kean and founder of the Enough Project, an organization devoted to ending genocide and crimes against humanity. He’s also worked for the Clinton administration as the National Security Council’s Director for African Affairs and was Special Adviser to the State Department.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Jeffrey Toney and Felice Vazquez who is President Dawood Farahi’s Special Counsel helped organize the event with Prendergast. The book club was led by the new Human Rights Institute Director Elizabeth Turchi and Holocaust Resource Center Director Janice Kroposky.

“Kean University’s first book club on human rights is a unique opportunity for our students to discover how to make the world a better place by learning about successful strategies in advocacy and volunteerism,” stated Toney.

“The Enough Moment” features interviews from up-standers, celebrities such as George Clooney and legislators like former New Jersey congressman Donald Payne. The message of the book is one of hope.

“… Africa is NOT a continent of despair or hopelessness,” Prendergast pointed out in his book. “Scratch a little beneath the surface and there is much hope. Most of Africa is at peace – democratizing and growing economically.”

Prendergast left a video message for members since he could not attend the meeting and elaborated on developments out of Sudan and Uganda since the book’s publication in 2010. Prendergast also explained where he gets his motivation to keep the good fight going in a phone interview before the event.

“My resilience comes from two things,” stated Prendergast. “I’ve seen so many examples of hope and I get my energy from my visits to refugee camps, seeing how they’ve survived…That gives me so much fuel to do what I do.”

About 75 people registered for the club, although about 15 people came to the event. Four Kean students attended the meeting as well as some local residents. Kim Purdy, an Elizabeth resident, stated that she was enthusiastic about having an intellectual event so close to her home.

Members discussed a wide range of topics, including their personal “enough moments” and ways they could help in African countries. Some were interested in starting a Sister School program, an initiative that connects students in the United States to students in African countries.

The book club’s list includes works from United States Ambassador Samantha Power, well-known journalists Adam Hochschild and Philip Gourevitch and Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Another book from Prendergast, “Unlikely Brothers,” will also be discussed.

All books on the club’s list were handpicked by Prendergast and the first 10 students who registered for the club received their books for free, courtesy of Toney. Proceeds from each presented book will go to the Enough Project.

The book club is free and open to the public and will meet the last Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m., although this first one was rescheduled for Feb. 3 due to snow. To register, go to http://www.kean.edu/hribookclub.

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