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Chicago’s North Lawndale College Prep (NLCP) Christiana and Collins campuses are home to their Nationally recognized Peace Warrior student groups. The key to these groups is developing students into critically thinking, problem-solving young adults.
Throughout this process, a central ideal taught to the students is one of peaceful nonviolence. As the training continues, students are introduced to the six principles of Kingian Nonviolence and how to incorporate this philosophy into their daily life. These principles, epitomized by Dr. Martin Luther King, are highly regarded.
The Kingian Nonviolence principles are as follows: Principles one and two are nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people, and the beloved community is the framework for the future. Principles three and four attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil, and accept suffering without retaliation for the cause’s sake to achieve a goal. Finally, the last two are to avoid internal violence of the spirit and external physical violence.
After successful completion of training, students pledge to a life of nonviolence while teaching others. NLCP’s Peace Warriors positively impact the academic culture and atmosphere by effectively engaging students as leaders on their campuses. These leaders help decrease violence, increase understanding, and provide supportive outlets to victims of traumatic events.
With this, the culture on campus becomes healthier and tolerable for its staff and students. This ideal tranquil setting is not only one of less violence but one that provides a piece of mind for those who have experienced violence and trauma in their lives already. The learning environment should be one of progress and productivity, and the Peace Warriors work to ensure that happens.
Though NLCP students actively used the initiative to change how their community responds to acts of violence, a method dating back hundreds of years.
In the 17th century, George Fox founded the Religious Society of Friends, now known as Quakers in England. The group believed that the presence of God resided in all people and that there should be spiritual equality for men and women.
Brother Fox left English Midlands in the 1640s in search of spiritual enlightenment. On his Journey, Fox felt the presence of God speaking directly to him, in something that he called “openings” that gave him direction. He shared his beliefs in large gatherings.
In 1652, Fox met Margaret Fell, a future leader of the early Quaker movement. Her home, Swarthmoor Hall in Northwest England, was utilized as a meeting place for Quaker gatherings. Fox and Fell married in 1667.
Since arriving in the United States in the mid-1650s, Quakers practiced pacifism and civil rights. They also played vital roles in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements.
The term Quaker was initially said in contempt for the group and others who supported the group’s belief in the Bible passage “tremble at the Word of the Lord.” However, the group embraced the name and redefined the term through actions rather than words.
Historical estimates say that the Quakers reached 50,000 members in 1660. Continuing to spread through Britain, many people deemed Quaker beliefs radical, with ideas like women and men being spiritual equals and females being able to speak out during worship. Along with no official ministers and religious rituals, they also chose not to use labels such as “Your Lordship” and “My Lady.”
Being a practitioner of nonviolence did not end with the Quakers; iconic figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are held in high praise for brave and lifelong efforts in peaceful protest and activism in the early-mid 1900s. They carried the mantle and have inspired the likes of NLCP to be advocates for peace and harmony in their learning environments and communities, pushing the envelope forward.
Written by Mikal Eggleston
Edited by Sheena Robertson
Chicago CBS News: Peace Warriors will host a discussion with Rep. Danny Davis on teen violence by Danny Davis
NLCPHS.ORG: Championing the cause of peaceful, nonviolent approaches to solving problems
Featured Image Courtesy of Kevin Dooley’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of John Hall‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License