Paths to Inner and Outer Peace – Jonathan Granoff and Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons

Air Date: 21 September, 2023

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Ph.D. is Professor Emerita in Religious and African American Studies and affiliated Faculty in Women Studies at the University of Florida. She obtained her BA from Antioch University in Human Services, her MA in Religious Studies & her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa.

Simmons became active in the Civil Rights Movement during her freshman year at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1962. She became a SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) field secretary two years later in the summer of 1964 when she joined hundreds of other college age volunteers who traveled to Mississippi to work in the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. She was assigned to Laurel, Mississippi where she became one of three women Project Directors in the State, working there for a total of 18 months. After leaving Mississippi, Simmons worked in the NY Office of SNCC organizing High School and College Friends of SNCC groups. Her stint in NY was cut short when Julian Bond was denied his duly elected seat in the Georgia State Legislature to help organize the Julian Bond Re-election Campaign in his legislative district. After Bond’s Re-election, Simmons and a group of those who had worked on his campaign formed the Atlanta Project of SNCC, which became the organization’s first major Southern urban project. It was in the Atlanta Project that the foundation for the Black Power thrust in SNCC was laid when the group wrote a Position Paper on Black Power that would later be published in the NY Times and labeled as “SNCC’s Black Power Manifesto.”

Since her years with SNCC, Simmons has served as an organizer with the National Council of Negro Women, serving as their Mid-West Field Director for their Project Woman Power and later with the American Friends Service Committee, where she held a number of program and administrative jobs for over 20 years. She returned to college in the late 80s to resume the college education she had left behind to work full time in the Movement, completing her academic studies in 2002. Simmons primary academic focus was on Islamic Law and its impact on Muslim women. She conducted research for two years as a Fulbright and NMERTA scholar in Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and Syria (1996-1998) on the Shari’ah’s impact on women, contemporarily and the women’s movements in those countries to change these laws. She taught Courses on Islam, Women and Islam, Modern Islamic Thought, Islam in American, African American Religious Traditions and Race Religion and Rebellion. Additionally, she taught Courses on the Civil Rights Movement, on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X among other African American Studies topics.

Simmons is a prolific public Speaker on College and University Campuses as well as in Community Forums. She is featured in several films on the Civil Rights Movement and on Women & Islam. Additionally, she has written numerous articles and essays on the Civil Rights Movement and on Women & Islam.

Jonathan Granoff is President of Global Security Institute, a Permanent Observer to the United Nations of the International Anti-Corruption Academy, he is Rep to the UN of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, a fellow of World Academy of Art and Science and since his youth has been a student of the Sufi saint Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, he is honored with his namesake haven been given the name Ahamed Muhaiyaddeen.