What We Do
The Kingian Nonviolence curriculum, Dr. King’s approach to nonviolent conflict reconciliation, explores nonviolence as a way of life, conflict analysis and de-escalation, and a process for creating change both interpersonally and to address larger systemic issues. Our services are primarily targeted to in-school and out-of-school young people 12-24 years of age. Feedback on our training programs have been overwhelmingly positive: Youth report that they leave the training feeling “Hopeful and Empowered.”
How We Got Started
We were inspired by the 90 percent reduction of in-school violence that occurred at North Lawndale College Prep High School (NLCP) on Chicago’s West Side after our colleague, chemistry teacher and social justice advocate Tiffany Childress, began a program in 2009 to train students in Kingian Nonviolence. That percentage has been sustained over the past seven years. A culture of peace within the school walls has been established. This does not mean that a fight never occurs at the school; it means that students are committed to preventing violence and when a conflict does arise they work quickly to de-escalate it. The results of their positive actions show in a peaceful school climate.
Peace in the Schools
In 2016, the co-founders of the AWC were moved to expand the good work being done at North Lawndale College Prep High School to more young people through a citywide pilot project involving three high schools. Unique features of the program include peer training and the joining together of students from different schools for trainings, to share ideas, learn from each other and to create strategies for addressing social issues across traditional boundaries. Some of the students in the program continue training to become Kingian Nonviolence Trainers within their schools and communities.
With the pilot phase completed, the program is now in the Implementation Phase as we begin work with a second cohort of high schools. Once trained, the AWC continues working with students through Peace Warrior groups formed at the schools and/or through our Enrichment Series (see below). Student Peer Trainers hold trainings, thereby creating a process for institutionalizing nonviolence to transform school culture. The Addie Wyatt Center also employs student trainers.
Peer trainers keep their eyes and ears open and intervene if they suspect that something is about to “jump off.” These students contact an adult in the school and arrange for a peace circle or mediation session with all parties to iron out their disagreements. Student Peace Warriors encourage students not to retaliate; to think first and work to de-escalate violence by bringing down the intensity of the altercation. Given the catalytic role of cyber-bullying in escalating conflicts in schools and on the streets, Peace Warriors monitor social media and report to administrators posts that students and school officials deem dangerous to certain students or to the student body; thereby mitigating a viral and spiraling effect.
Training for Young People in After-School Programs
To meet the needs of all interested young people, the AWC offers its basic Two-Day Core training through after-school programs in units and during the summer and to youth-serving agencies that operate after-school programs. For example, we have established a partnership with the Chicago Youth Centers that operate eight centers around the city. Through this program, we provide services for specialized groups of young people, such as students in foster care. The after-school programs contain the same content, interactive activities and rigor as our traditional full-day workshops. The AWC provides a safe space for students and teachers to discuss their community concerns and ideas for the future.
The AWC aims to offer Kingian Nonviolence training to young people ages 14-24 years old who have criminal records and are returning to their communities. The purpose of this programming is to provide opportunities for personal transformation and the acquisition of nonviolence conflict reconciliation skills and to decrease recidivism. The goal is to increase each person’s likelihood of success on the outside.
The youth with whom we work with have expressed a deep interest in knowing more about their history. Knowing one’s history promotes understanding about how events, laws, practices and attitudes evolved; it shows how we have been historically connected and disconnected from one another; and knowing your history can instill a sense of pride in what generations before you have accomplished and endured. In the words of a young male high school student we met, “If I don’t know my history, I don’t know how to value myself.” The AWC Enrichment Series focuses on Black and Latino Chicago and on religious tolerance. The Series also builds skills, exposes young people to non-traditional experiences and sites through field trips, and provides opportunities for young people to practice the nonviolence skills they have learned.
Nonviolence Training for Teachers and Youth Workers
To support our work with young people, the Addie Wyatt Center trains teachers and representatives from youth-serving agencies in Kingian Nonviolence, skills that they can then apply in their classes and after-school and summer programs. Some of the teachers and youth workers continue to become Kingian Nonviolence Trainers. This program offers participants a basic grounding in the philosophy and practice of nonviolence, as well as trainer and basic organizing skills necessary to mount a nonviolent campaign on behalf of a social or economic cause.
Signature Training Programs
This 1.5-hour abbreviated orientation to Kingian Nonviolence explores how the philosophy of nonviolence can be applied to confront injustices and build towards the Beloved Community. By discussing Dr. King's views on violence and nonviolence, and by learning and analyzing his Six Principles as well as Six Step organizing methodology, attendees become familiar with a viable, practical and historically effective map for how to create lasting social change through Building the Beloved Community: the philosophy of Kingian Nonviolence can be applied to confront injustice and build towards our ideal.
TWO-DAY CORE WORKSHOP
In this introductory workshop, participants receive an overview of the life, work and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and explore how his philosophy of nonviolence can be applied to confront injustice and build towards the Beloved Community - a place of equality and justice for all. By learning and analyzing Dr. King's Six Principles of Nonviolence as well as his Six Step methodology, attendees become familiar with a viable, practical, and historically effective map for how to create lasting social change. Trainees are also introduced to the Types and Levels of Conflict. They will learn the salient points of major civil rights campaigns, including the Chicago Freedom Movement, and reflect on the ingredients which made them successful. Using a variety of interactive techniques, participants reflect together on how to apply teachings in our current environments.
ORIGIN OF CURRICULUM
The Kingian Nonviolence curriculum authored by Dr. Bernard LaFayette and David Jehnsen has been taught and implemented in countries around the world, including the United States, Nigeria, Columbia, South Africa, Mexico, Israel, and Palestine. Dr. LaFayette was a close friend and confidant of Dr. King. He is a movement activist, minister, educator, co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and director of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign. LaFayette is considered a global authority on the strategy of nonviolent social change and created this curriculum while working with Coretta Scott King as a response to Dr. King's mandate that the next step for his work be the institutionalization and internationalization of nonviolence.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND
People who are interested exploring nonviolence as a way of life and/or nonviolent action to address a social or economic injustice to achieve lasting social change; those who are returning from the criminal justice system; students and those who are teaching and working together locally. Both new and established groups, and individuals.