Edwin Black knows no peace, and has spent his career in search of it.
The New York Times bestselling author, perhaps best known for IBM and the Holocaust, has made a living answering the questions most others fear to ask.
"A journalist like me is concerned with how it happened. It's not just as simple as who fired the bullet, but who bought it," he said in a recent telephone interview. "I answer the uncomfortable questions of complicities. I answer the question of who profits."
Why does he ask? His parents survived the Holocaust.
Black will be one of four keynote speakers during Pasco-Hernando Community College's Peace Week, a free and open to the public event that begins Tuesday.
The college's hallmark event, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times, is in its fourth year and promotes peace from a global perspective. Co-founders Karen Davis and Mike Sadusky sum it up best in a letter to the PHCC community: "PHCC proudly hosts Peace Week each year to recognize that peace is not simply the absence of war, but a constantly changing and fragile ideology that can be threatened if people are not given the opportunity to express themselves and connect with one another. We must find understanding and balance in a social climate that increases in culturally diversity and technological advances alongside growing volatility, political pressures and global perspective each day."
Davis, an associate professor of language arts who serves as co-chairperson of the college's Peace and Social Justice Institute, came up with the idea for a campus peace event after attending a peace and security in community colleges conference in Washington, D.C., in 2007. She and Sadusky, a psychology professor, brainstormed and Peace Week evolved into an event bringing students, teachers, administrators and the community together on each of the college's four campuses in New Port Richey, Dade City, Brooksville and Spring Hill.
"We are very lucky to have such an open-minded administration," said Davis, who added the event is a way to opens the eyes of the community in this time of war. "It throws the word peace into the vocabulary. It makes people think about conflict resolution."
This year's theme is "Imagine the possibilities of peace."
"Imagine a better world, especially for our young students," Davis said. That can mean anything from a throw-back mantra of make love, not war, to a cleaner environment by educating and bringing people together."
Films, music, guest lectures, drum circles, art projects and yoga classes are all part of the celebration that wraps up Oct. 24. Throughout the week on the New Port Richey campus, Buddhist monks will create a sand mandala, a sacred and spiritual piece of art.
Keynote speakers will rotate on each of the campuses while their presentations will be telecast on each of the other campuses. In addition to Black, keynote speakers include Cantor Deborah Jacobson, a spiritual leader at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Palm Harbor; Eva Mozes Kor, a Holocaust survivor and forgiveness advocate who brought people to tears at last year's event; and the Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a Freedom Rider and longtime civil rights activist who worked alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
In his award-winning book, IBM and the Holocaust, Black lays out a case that IBM and Hitler's Third Reich had a strategic long-term relationship that led to identifying those who Hitler wanted to eliminate by using IBM developed punch-card technology.
During his three presentations at PHCC, Black will discuss three of his other best sellers. The Nazi Nexus is a discussion about how American companies contributed to the Third Reich. The Farhud explores the international alliance between Nazis and Arabs. In Internal Combustion he looks at society's dependence on oil, saying greed is what fueled the energy crisis and that electric-car technology has been around for a century. He tells people how to get off oil now.
"All of those topics directly affect the question of peace," Black said.
Very few colleges hold events such as peace week, organizers say, and those that do are merely following their lead. Black agrees.
"I think that a small college like Pasco-Hernando is actually distinguishing themselves and showing the way," he said. "The torch is being carried to the highest top and that is being attributed to them."