A steady rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of about 50 students, faculty, staff and guests who gathered inside Hartness Pavilion at Furman University on Tuesday, April 5, to dedicate the installation of a peace pole.
Outside, between the dining hall and Furman Lake, the peace pole, installed the day before, stood as a stalwart symbol of reflection. Painted pencil yellow, the square wooden pole, standing about 7 feet high, reads “May peace prevail on Earth” in English, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese.
The Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection presented the pole after students encountered poles during trips to the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland and to Montgomery, Alabama.
The pole “represents Furman’s hope and commitment toward peace in our community and the entire world,” according to Abijah Leamon ’24, one of several students who spoke at the ceremony.
John Harris, director of the Cothran Center, said the peace pole “is also a reminder of the peace that can be felt individually and internally by those who work toward understanding their own vocations and callings. Personally, the peace pole reminds me of the special experiences we have had with our students in locations where these poles already exist.” There are more than 250,000 peace poles around the world.
President Elizabeth Davis said the peace pole symbolizes the Cothran Center’s mission of reflection, which is central to The Furman Advantage. She also thanked Jeanette Cothran, who was in attendance, and her husband John, for their gift in 2013 that endowed the center.
“I hope this peace pole encourages us to pause and appreciate what we have, and to pray in your tradition for people for whom peace is fleeting, or foreign,” Davis said. “Let us use this peace pole to motivate us to spread peace wherever and however we can.”
Students, many of whom were on the Montgomery trip, completed the dedication program. The Furman University Gospel Ensemble sang “Peace” by New Direction. Leamon and Louisa Brown ’23 described the history that brought the peace pole to Furman. The words on the pole were recited by students in their native languages: Matt Bush ’24 in English and American Sign Language, Jenny Yue ’22 in Chinese, Botamina Sorial ’23 in Arabic and Shakira Olivera-Bautista ’25 in Spanish. Kelsey Sumter ’24 read the poem “Amazing Peace” by Maya Angelou. Eboni Johnson ’22 read a short essay titled “Now What?” Clinton Washington ’22 led a moment of silence. And Miles Baker ’23 delivered closing remarks.