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Fresno State Peace Garden

The concept for a Peace Garden at Fresno State began in 1990 when a bronze memorial was dedicated for Mahatma Gandhi, a prophet of nonviolence and father of the 20 th century human rights movement. Located just north of the Library , Fresno State’s Peace Garden stands as an inspiration and tribute to lives devoted to peace and activism.

Nelson Mandela will soon be the newest addition to the Peace Garden. As South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Mandela led the African National Congress and successfully negotiated the end of apartheid after serving 27 years in prison. He was a bold leader who created a legacy of racial reconciliation. His lifelong commitment to youth inspired a new generation of leaders committed to democracy and human dignity.

Fresno State plans to honor Nelson Mandela’s legacy by adding his likeness to its Peace Garden. Your support of this important community project will ensure that future generations of campus visitors will learn about, and be inspired by, the work of Nelson Mandela. We invite you to make a gift today.


In addition to Gandhi, Nelson Mandela will join previously erected statues honoring César E. Chávez, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jane Addams.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) was a pivotal figure in India’s history and its quest for independence from Britain. He preached passive resistance and employed tactics such as marches and hunger strikes as a form of political protest. His non-violent approach to civil disobedience inspired other movements around the world. His memorial was unveiled on October 2, 1990.

César Chávez (1927-1993) founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, an organization that later became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). During his life, he waged a non-violent battle against social injustice, oppression, and human suffering. Through boycotts, strikes, marches, and other means, Chávez fought for better pay and working conditions for farm workers for more than 30 years. His statue was dedicated on March 31, 1996.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was a leader in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by Gandhi, Dr. King used powerful speeches and other non-violent tactics in the struggle to achieve equal rights for African-Americans. He is portrayed in his ministerial robes, holding a child to symbolize innocence and concern for future generations. Dr. King’s statue was unveiled on January 18, 1998.

Jane Addams (1860-1935) was a social reformer, writer, and international peace advocate. She was co-founder of the social settlement Hull House in Chicago, and was also the first president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. In 1931, she became the first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Her statue was dedicated on April 6, 2006.

Over time, other distinct features have been added to the Peace Garden. In 2002, two Canary Island pine trees were planted to honor Fresno State alumni Todd Beamer and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Vincent Tolbert. Both were killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Special thanks to Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, professor emeritus of social work education and peace and conflict studies, who led the efforts for the Peace Garden statues. Each of the garden’s four memorials have been funded through private giving.