Kingian Nonviolence is a philosophy of nonviolent conflict reconciliation, based on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and the organizing strategies he used during the Civil Rights Movement. It is a holistic view of conflict that includes the study and analysis of conflict (how to understand conflict), the Principles of Nonviolence (the values of a community), and the Steps of Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation (how to address conflict and restore relationships).
"The time is always right to do what is right." - Dr. King
Dr. Martin Luther King's last speech is known as "I've Been to the Mountain Top." On the day following this speech, Dr. King met with Dr. Bernard LaFayette, and told him that Nonviolence must be institutionalized and internationalized. Dr. King was assassinated that evening. NSRI is committed to honoring Dr. King's request, with the hope of creating a Beloved (Peaceful) Community in our schools.
This Principle challenges us to adopt Nonviolence as a lifestyle, with respect to our thoughts, words, and actions. We recognize the courage it takes to live our lives this way, and work towards this end.
Our commitment to Nonviolence points us towards the goal of creating a Peaceful Community (which Dr. King referred to as the Beloved Community). This Principle is our framework for all that we aspire to do and be.
This Principle reminds us to nonviolently attack problems with strategies that will help us collaborate with our adversaries, and to a create resolution that satisfies everyone involved in the conflict. Attacking people will only compound the problem, and not resolve it.
Often it is difficult to do the right thing. When practicing Nonviolence, we can combine our knowledge of Nonviolence, with our inner courage, to do what is right, especially when we have to make difficult decisions or actions.
The Nonviolence practitioner's words and actions are intended to lift people's spirits. When we are in a conflict, we must be cognizant of our own emotions, and make every effort to de-escalate before we attempt to address a conflict.
Dr. King stated that "the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice". This Principle teaches us to hold onto a belief that there is a greater power or force that will allow justice to prevail. While this may take a long time, this Principle is our hope for the future.
When you are in a conflict, it is important to contemplate your commitment to reconciling it. You must prepare yourself for what is to come. Think about the Principles as a way to strengthen yourself mentally, and continue to examine your commitment throughout the process.
This is the most critical Step. Doubt your first impression and work to find the truth from all the people involved in the conflict. Ask questions that will give you the information that will help you reconcile with your opponents. Continue to ask questions until you have all of the facts. You are also educating yourself by gathering information.
At this Step, you are able to take the information you gathered and use it to educate those involved in the conflict. Often it is through Information Gathering and Education that you can resolve differences and then go directly to Reconciliation.
The goal of Negotiation is to collaborate on a "win-win" agreement that satisfies everyone's needs. Work in the best interest of the person you are trying to reconcile with. Keep the communication positive, and continue to negotiate until all parties are happy with the decision.
If a negotiated agreement is not achieved, then a Direct Action will convince others that negotiating is in their best interest. Continue with the Direct Action, and show those with an opposing view that you are at odds with their position (not at odds with them). The goal of a Direct Action (e.g. petition, march, boycott, etc.) is to return to Negotiation.
When using the Steps, Reconciliation is the goal. It is important for everyone involved in the conflict to work towards restoring a positive relationship, because the creation of the Beloved Community is our goal.
A student activist in the Nashville, Tennessee sit-in campaign of 1960, and a longtime staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Bernard LaFayette gained a reputation as a steadfast proponent of nonviolence before King offered him the position of Program Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1967.
Dr. LaFayette visited Robin Wildman's fifth grade class in 2001 to inspire students about living a life of Nonviolence. Along the way, he became inspired by their intense curiosity about the civil rights movements and Dr. King. After the students and their families were trained in Nonviolence, they joined together to raise $20,000 in three months. Dr. LaFayette took them on a life-changing trip to Alabama and Georgia on a civil rights historical tour. He has been mentoring Robin and supporting her work in the classroom ever since.
Check out this great video by the Metta Center if you would like to learn more about what Nonviolence is.