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Peace activist to speak at NIU

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – Kathy Kelly’s effort to promote peace has been to some of the most dangerous places in the world.

In November, she visited the Gaza Strip three days after a cease-fire ended eight days of fighting between the Palestinians and Israelis, which killed more than 160 people. Kelly went to visit with families who had lost loved ones.

“It was a very tragic set of circumstances faced by each family,” she said.

Kelly will speak about her experience in Gaza at 7:15 p.m. today in the Illinois Room of the Holmes Student Center at Northern Illinois University. She also will talk with guests about her overall campaign for peace.

“It’s important to bring the message into university communities and listen to feedback from the university communities,” she said.

Dan Kenney, co-coordinator of the DeKalb Interfaith Network, which is co-sponsoring the event with the NIU Department of Philosophy, said Kelly’s presentation is a great opportunity for the public to learn more about how war affects people living in these tumultuous areas.

“She gets a firsthand view of what it’s like to be a person living under those conditions in those circumstances,” he said.

Originally from Chicago, Kelly said she was inspired to work for peace after feeling troubled as a student and a teacher who kept hearing about problems related to poverty and violence. She chose to move to a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Chicago and soon became enlightened about becoming an activist.

“A number of things became very, very clear,” she said.

Today, Kelly is the co-coordinator of Voices of Creative Nonviolence, a group that campaigns to end U.S. economic and military warfare.

Her efforts have brought her to some of the most war-torn areas in the world, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently the Gaza Strip, where many civilian lives were lost during military attacks.

“Hearing what had happened is such a nightmare of an experience,” Kelly said.

Kenney said anyone who attends Kelly’s presentation will be able to get a glimpse into the world of those affected by war.

“She brings a really good perspective of things,” he said.

He said he hopes Kelly’s insights will bring about a greater effort for peace in the world.

“Anytime we have the opportunity to hear about how conflicts are effecting the everyday lives of people, it helps us to work for diplomacy and peace in every way we can,” he said.

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