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MLK Legacy: It Takes Strength to Resist the Temptation of Violence

'We can never give up on it.'

OLD FOURTH WARD — As a daughter of the American Civil Rights Movement, the Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King knows firsthand how crucial adhering to a philosophy of non-violence can be in effecting change.

She also knows the cost — it was an assassin's bullet that killed her father, Martin Luther King Jr., who led the movement.

Despite the daily threats he and other leaders in the struggle for voting rights, equal protection and recognition as full citizens of America, he stuck to that philosophy.

It's that mindset that underscores her "Choose Nonviolence" movement, which stresses and and teaches peaceful, non-combative ways of resolving conflict as an alternative to violent outcomes.

The 100-day campaign, which started Jan. 15, is asking participants to take a "No Shots Fired" Pledge on Jan. 20 — MLK Day —   in honor of her father's legacy of non-violence.

King, who is chief executive officer of the King Center, acknowledges it takes more strength to not meet violence in kind but she said each tit for tat creates a vicious cycle that never has a positive outcome.

Even in the face of water hoses, police batons and dogs, her father and others in the movement resisted the urge to meet violence with violence.

That same approach can work now, she said, in an interview with Patch.

"We believe that non-violence has a way — for most people — to appealing to their higher self," she said. "They have some kind of moral conscience, somewhere inside them.

"Over time, that part of that person will be awakened."

Admittedly, it's a daunting task. By any number of objective measures, the United States is statistically more violent than its industrial counterparts.

According to David Hemenway, a health policy professor and director of Harvard University's Injury Control Research Center, American kids between ages 5 and 14 are 13 times more likely to be murdered with guns than children of other industrialized countries.

And it's just as grim on a more local level, according to the Martin Prosperity Institute in the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

Some U.S. cities' homicide rates via gun violence rivals that of some of the world's deadliest nations, according to an institute study.

The city of Atlanta, for example, had roughly 17.2 gun-related homicides per 100,000 residents, the data show. That's just behind the entire country of Brazil's rate of 18.1 gun homicides per 100,000.

But it's ahead of rates in South Africa and Mexico, which stood at 17 and 10, respectively, per 100,000.

The numbers are sobering, but the trend can and must be reversed, King said, adding she's encouraged by non-violence effort being undertaken by people in the different countries that have been ravaged by war and other strife.

"We have to teach it, there are those of that have to model it by example," she said. "And we can never give up on it."

Please click on the video to watch Part II of our interview.
To see Part I, follow this link.

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