|"If you have faith and a grain of mustard seed, you can move mountains." So said Rev. Leon Sullivan, a West Virginia native, a preacher, social activist and educator, responsible for leading international efforts to promote nonviolent social and economic change. A Principled Man: Rev. Leon Sullivan, airing on PBS Friday, Jan. 26, 2001 at 10 p.m. ET, journeys from the mountains of West Virginia to America's corporate boardrooms and across the fields of Africa, to profile this extraordinary human rights champion.
Having fought racial discrimination all his life, Rev. Sullivan created the "Sullivan Principles" of equal opportunity in 1977, which became a blueprint for ending apartheid in South Africa and economic injustice around the world. These principles have been adopted by the United Nations as an international ethical standard for multinational companies' roles in assuring human rights.
The program follows Rev. Sullivan from the poverty of his early life in Charleston, West Virginia, to becoming a minister and leading advocate of segregated social and economic change. His mission led him from the pulpit to the boardrooms of industry. As a member of the board of directors of the General Motors Corporation, he developed a code of conduct for American corporate affiliates operating in South Africa, establishing a framework that revolutionized race relations in business.
Sullivan also founded the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), which provids practical training for black Americans. Today, there are 76 centers in the United States and 33 centers in 18 different countries. Sullivan created the African/African American Summit to form a stronger bond between the two continents, and founded the International Foundation for Education and Self Help, which trains teachers and oversees the building of schools in Africa. In 1992, Sullivan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George Bush, the highest award the United States can bestow upon a civilian. He also received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in 1999 from President Bill Clinton.
Award-winning actor Ossie Davis narrates the documentary, which includes coverage of Rev. Sullivan's April 1998 visit to Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, and the Fifth African-African American Summit convened by Rev. Sullivan in May 1999 in Ghana, West Africa.