Lopez studies nonviolent activism with civil rights icon

  • Sat Jun 2nd, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

By Kim Pasciuto and Gretchen Wing

On May 20 and 21, 80 Lopezians, including many high school students, gathered to learn the philosophy and tactics of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s nonviolence, from a member of his inner circle, Dr. Bernard LaFayette. The event was hosted by the Lopez Island Family Resource Center and co-sponsored by the Lopez Community Land Trust and Lopez Island Friends Meeting (Quakers); Lopez School’s participation was supported by the Lopez Island Education Foundation.

According to LaFayette, “Kingian Nonviolence is a framework for transforming and reconciling conflict that was developed out of the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the organizing strategies of the civil rights movement. The goal is to prevent violence, yes, but its ambitions are even bigger: to pursue reconciliation by putting strength and agency in the hands of those who choose to act, talk and think in healthy, humanly connected ways that pursue a common higher ground.”

Over the two-day training, participants learned and practiced the philosophical basis for nonviolence as a way of life, the six principles of nonviolence and six steps to using nonviolence as a vehicle to make a lasting and meaningful change. The resource center invited LaFayette, his wife, Dr. Kate LaFayette, and two other trainers as part of its advocacy for a just community, a continuation of its Community Conversations series, begun two years ago. In the last several years a sharpening of discourse has become noticeable, a tendency to divide into subgroups and retreat into our respective corners. This training was designed to remind Lopezians of our common purpose and our commitment to a deeply shared sense of community.

The LaFayettes were impressed with their reception, especially the student participation, and the delicious meals provided by Kim Bast and Kim and Ciro Pasciuto.

Said Kate LaFayette, “I’m so thrilled with your enthusiasm and your intentions — it feels like this community is ready to put this training into action.”