Waging Nonviolence: MLK’s Final Marching Orders

1965 anti-civil rights billboard in Selma, Ala., showing Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Highlander School. (Flickr/Penn State Special Collections)

“Now, Bernard, the next movement we’re going to have is to institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence.”

It was a comment made almost in passing. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr., then the national coordinator for the Poor People’s Campaign, was walking out of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s motel room in Memphis, Tenn.

Dr. Lafayette figured this was a conversation that they would finish later, and he walked out of the room and headed to Washington, D.C., to attend a press conference. But the two would never go on to finish that discussion; five hours later, Dr. King was assassinated.

Dr. Lafayette was determined to not let Dr. King’s vision die with him. He took those last words, “institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence,” as what he has since called his “final marching orders” and has been working ever since to accomplish just that.

In the late 1980s, Dr. Lafayette joined forces with David Jehnsen, another activist who was involved in the civil rights movement and was responsible for drafting the first proposal for the U.S. Institute of Peace. Together, they created the Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation training curriculum.  READ THE REST OF THIS STORY AT WAGINGNONVIOLENCE.ORG

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