Replay video of the 14th annual Blessing of the Peacemakers on Jan. 26, 2020 at the Whitley Center on the campus of Oblate School of Theology.
The 2020 Peace Laureates are: Lionel Sosa, Gurvinder Pal "G.P." Singh and Cappy Lawton. The peaceCENTER appointed the Peace Laureates, local voices of wisdom and experience to speak for peace and justice in San Antonio.
Thanks to support from the peaceCENTER, and individual donors like you, anyone can watch live or replay later for free, right on this page. Scroll down to read highlights of remarks by the Peace Laureates and others at the event.
Peace Laureate Cappy Lawton has started 29 restaurants. Today, he and his wife Suzy and son Trevor own and operate La Fonda on Main, Cappy’s, and Cappyccino’s and are reopening Mama's Cafe. "At his restaurants, people meet people, and they form community...Cappy takes care of his people, he takes care of his community," the peaceCenter's Susan Ives said in her introduction.
Avery and Trevor Lawton talked about their dad and his fondness for planting trees. "Dad has always told us his religion is nature," said Avery. "We often refer to him as Cappy Appleseed," said Trevor.
Cappy Lawton said he felt like the wrong person to be honored. "I don't deserve to be a peacemaker," Lawton said. "Most people who've known me for a long time would say, that isn't a word I would use to describe Cappy, I am a a fighter, I get way too angry about things," he said.
"I'm very concerned about global warming, I'm very concerned about the way we are treating our immigrants in our country. I am very concerned about the bipolar nature of our country and the anger that exists, and the people so firmly convinced that they know right from wrong, and I am very concerned about lack of religious freedom and acceptance. I'm angry, and I wish I weren't, and I don't think I deserve to be a peacemaker," he said.
"Thank you for honoring me and my family," he concluded. "I'll work better to deserve it."
Peace Laureate Gurvinder Pal "G.P." Singh immigrated to the United States 46 years ago and chose San Antonio as his home in 1979. In 1986 he founded Karta Technologies, an information technology company that grew to 400 employees before it was acquired by NCI Information Systems in 2007 for about $65 million.
Gurpaul Singh introduced his uncle, G.P. Singh, with a Sikh prayer: "Ask almighty God for the well being of all humanity, for the prosperity of everyone and for global peace." His uncle served the community through work on boards including Catholic Charities, the United Way, Texas Public Radio, the Cancer Therapy and Research Center. He was a confidant and mentor to the late John Santikos, who donated his entire $600 million estate to the San Antonio Area Foundation.
"When I first moved here I was the only Sikh who wore a turban, I dealt with my fair share of racism then," said G.P. Singh. "Having been on the other side of hate, I wanted to use my privilege to lift up those who are the most vulnerable."
Peace Laureate Lionel Sosa, a San Antonio native, created Sosa and Associates in 1980 (later Sosa Bromley and now Bromley Communications) that became the largest Hispanic advertising agency in the United States. He advised political campaigns including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush on reaching the Hispanic audience.
Sosa said the word "Peacemaker, in many ways this describes all of San Antonio... We tend to not be suspicious. When we have compassion and trust, we have peace. Somehow we have less political strife here."
He said the community deserved the honor of being named Peacemakers. "You are open, collaborative, united, joyful, trusting, compassionate, peacemakers all."
Mayor Ron Nirenberg concluded the event with a bold promise. "Today I am officially announcing the San Antonio Compassion Tree Project - a collaboration to plant 20,000 trees in 2020 on behalf of Compassion San Antonio," he said. "This involves you and me and our shovels!"
He said the Compassion Tree Project was about future generations and the earth. He concluded by quoting a Greek proverb:
“A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.”
Since 2006, the peaceCENTER has celebrated The Blessing of the Peacemakers, a joyous hour-long interfaith ceremony featuring music, prayer, new inclusive and innovative rituals and inspirational speakers. It is the first event marking the beginning of the Season for Nonviolence and honors all of the peacemakers in the city.
The Season for Nonviolence, January 30 – April 4, is a 64-day educational, media, and grassroots campaign that demonstrates that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities. Inspired in 1998 by the 50th and 30th memorial anniversaries of the assassinations of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this international event honors their vision for an empowered, nonviolent world. It has been endorsed by such notables as the Dalai Lama and the late Coretta Scott King.