Freedom Foundation: Selma Alternative Spring Break

Jonathan L. Lewis

I was invited to inspire college students to continue learn, study and continue the work of the civil rights movement of the 50’s & 60’s. However I was the one who was inspired and overwhelmed.  Their hospitality and spirit of the old, young, Black, White, Brown, Yellow, and Red people involved in the program. The College’s that were represented were, Wisconsin University at Riverfalls, Illinois State University, New York University, Miami Universtity, and IUPUI: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

The Freedom Foundation is an organization that represents the “Beloved Community”, in the diversity that is represented and in the way that they encourage and support everyone to become their own individual fullest human potential.

I have included a few video clips describing the program and the spirit of the effort being conducted in Selma, Alabama, by the Freedom Foundation.

Freedom Foundation’s Opening Statement to the 100 students who descended on Selma to learn about the past and what is being done in the present to secure a better future tomorrow for our children’s children.

The Freedom Foundation is a group of remarkable volunteers that are committed to seeing the next generation have a good chance at life. The organization is completely volunteer-based, and is run by people who want to help develop, educate, train, encourage and assist the next generation. They are old, young, rich, poor, working and retired, but the one thing all volunteers have in common is a heart to serve. (Click here for more…)

Random Acts of Theater Company is one of the programs that the Freedom Foundation provides to the community of Selma. It is a  youth led and created program. They will be preforming in Washington, DC and in New York City last week. Click here to watch news clip about their trip. Here is the dance that Mark Duke, Freedom Foundation Chairmen, was talking about. While thousands of college students are traveling the globe to remote Spring Break location and exposing body parts to the heat of the experience, 100 students from 7 universities,(Miami, NYU, Illinois State, Wisconsin, Purdue) exposed themselves to the tragic realities of Selma, AL, and to embark on their own individual Nonviolence Pilgrimage. Kylie Jones, (above right side) was one of these college students years ago, who participated in the Selma Spring Break Experience and whose life was changed forever.  After working in Selma for the entire summer, she transferred to Emory University to pursue a Law Degree and to only be a 3 hour car ride to Selma . Here is a video clip summarizing some of what she has been working as a member of the Freedom Foundation in Selma, AL. Miss Jones pursuing a better understanding of the Civil Rights Movement and her love for Selma, she enrolled in a class with Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr., current Chairmen of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the organizer that made room for the Selma to Montgomery March and the Director of Dr. Martin Luther King’s last campaign, the Chicago Poor People’s Campaign.

It was here that Miss Jones was introduced to Kingian Nonviolence and could see immediately the benefit and how Kingian Nonviolence could be applied in Selma to continue the work in 2012, that Dr. Lafayette had begun in 1963. Kylie then found her self at the University of Rhode Island participating in the Annual Kingian Nonviolence Summer Institute led by Dr. Bernard Lafayette. After going through the two week program she knew that this program would be a perfect fit to the Freedom Foundation’s alternative spring break program. Kylie with the Freedom Foundation invited me as a, Senior Kingian Nonviolence trainer with Lafayette & Associates and founder of the PPWN to co-facilitate a week of workshops to college students from around the country.

We had a great time and so did many of the students. Below you will find excerpts from emails I have received expressing what the experience meant to them personally.

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Illinois State University Student:

“It was just a week ago that i sat through a Nonviolence training seminar that you held for the students of Illinois State University at the Freedom Foundation, and i would just like to say from the bottom of my heart that what you have given me in just a short few short hours of training will forever influence the decisions i make in my life and who i am. I know for people like me and #########,  your teachings and overall outlook on life is one we look up to and hope to emulate as we work to make ourselves into outstanding citizens motivated to make a difference in this world. I sincerely wish we would have had more time to complete the whole two week nonviolence training, but given the circumstances i believe you have given us more then we could have asked for in such a short amount of time.”

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New York University Student:

Hi Jonathan!
It’s ###### from the AB Selma NYU group.
I wanted to thank you again for the amazing nonviolent training you provided for us.I still have not heard back from the NYU CMEP (center for multicultural education and programs),but I just wanted to let you know that I’m working on it and I hope to arrange something soonso that you can come to New York and spread your knowledge to the rest of NYU!
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One of the College Student Supervisors:
Good afternoon Jonathan!

“In case you do not remember me from a few weeks ago, my name is ######### and I went on Alternative Spring Break from Illinois State University to Alabama.  I apologize for not emailing you sooner; things have gotten a little crazy post spring break.  I wanted to thank you again for the non-violence training you facilitated while we were there.  The non-violence training was one of my most memorable experiences of the trip.  I really enjoyed learning about Dr. King’s legacy along with the strategies that accompany it.  You are a very talented speaker and I know that all of our members on the trip benefited and enjoyed hearing you speak.  One of my most memorable experiences was the short conversation we had outside of the church for about fifteen minutes about the bigger picture and how we can apply this to our professional lives.”

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