THE BLOG

50 Years Later... Once More, Nonviolence

03/27/2015 09:51 am ET | Updated May 27, 2015

"Once more the method of nonviolent resistance was unsheathed from its scabbard, and once again an entire community was mobilized to confront the adversary."
--Martin Luther King Jr.

On Wednesday, I stood on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery before thousands of people and repeated these words that my father spoke 50 years ago. As we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the culmination of the Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights, my father's "How Long? Not Long" speech, from which the quote above is taken, electrified the crowd and served as a reminder that, 50 years later, once more, we must embrace his nonviolent philosophy and methodology to address our critical national and global issues.

Today, our global citizenry is facing violence, in various forms, that seems insurmountable. We are grappling with violence in the form of voter suppression. State legislatures in numerous states are violently seeking to turn back the hands of time and erect tedious barriers to voting.

We are in the midst of a stunning, saddening and sickening wave of deaths of unarmed people of color at the hands law enforcement. The circumstances are questionable, and those of consciousness are asking: Why does black and brown life appear to be expendable? Do all lives really matter?

In Syria, people of the Christian faith are being persecuted and face the threat of death and torture every day. And, all over the globe, human trafficking and slavery persists, at its roots an unimaginable inhumanity and a perverse lust for money and power.

Many of our youth are contemplating suicide, and some take their own lives because they are weighed down by cruel, hurtful words and consistent bullying from classmates and community members. Environmental injustice is a tangible, intolerable example of an exhibited moral laxity and minimal concern for healthy standards by corporations and political structures based on the race, ethnicity and class of those being impacted.

What is the answer? What will turn the tide, individually, collectively, nationally and internationally? How can we build the Beloved Community that my father espoused?

As I looked out at the crowd in Montgomery, Alabama, I could not help but believe that what worked 50 years ago for the people who stood on those grounds then will work today for people struggling with issues that dehumanize and seek to destroy the human spirit.

Once more, we must courageously embrace Nonviolence 365, which is based on my father's nonviolent philosophy and methodology, as the answer to the "crucial political and moral questions of our time," and not as a mere response to incidents but as a lifestyle and a force for good that permeates our culture, including our media and entertainment. Somehow, we have to realize that what we watch and what we listen to not only often reflects our most violent tendencies but cultivates more violence.

Once more, we must examine how to make Nonviolence 365 intricate in the education of our children and college students, as well as a part of our law enforcement training and government priorities. From our Senate to our social workers, from our artists to our activists, Nonviolence 365 has to become infused in our mores and messaging.

Fifty years ago, my father emphatically stated, "How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

Fifty years later, as the beneficiaries of the blood, sweat and tears of a people who sacrificed so much, some even giving their lives, for the generations yet to be born, we must bend with the arc of the moral universe by yielding ourselves to a philosophy and methodology that changes hearts and systems.

In the powerful and prolific words of Dr. King, "We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation."

Once more, nonviolence.

Bernice A. King is Chief Executive Officer of The King Center.

©2015 Dr. Bernice A. King. All rights reserved