From Chattanooga To Memphis: East Meets West Making Nonviolence A Priority

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - by Missy Crutchfield

Today marks Chattanooga’s inaugural “Season for Nonviolence.” Last fall, Education, Arts & Culture invited Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Dr. Arun Gandhi to share his grandfather’s philosophy of nonviolence at schools, community organizations, and public events across our city. 

During Gandhi’s visit, Chattanooga committed to becoming “A Season for Nonviolence City”—joining over 250 cities nationwide who commemorate the season between Jan. 30 and April 4—the dates of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassinations.

You see, if there is one thing we learned from the independence movement in India and the Civil Rights Movement here in America, it really begins with the people. Here in our own community with Chattanooga Venture, our transformation began with the people, along with public and private partnership. And that community visioning process sparked a grassroots civic involvement launching Chattanooga, Tennessee’s environmental, economic, and cultural revitalization. 

Today, we face issues that need to be addressed like crime and education, once again, we realize change is always going to begin with the people, as it should.

This past weekend marked the beginning of that movement, led by students from Chattanooga and Memphis. Dr. Arun Gandhi, Congressman Steve Cohen, National Civil Rights Museum, Building Bridges, and representatives from Education, Arts & Culture led the inaugural “Season for Nonviolence” East Meets West visit at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. 

The program included East Meets West video conversations between students from Chattanooga’s Talented Tenth Leadership Program at The Howard School and Memphis students from the Building Bridges justice leadership program discussing the history of the Civil Rights Movement and “A Season for Nonviolence.”

Inspired by Gandhi and Dr. King’s messages of nonviolence, the students shared a brand new hand sign for “No More Violence! Nobody fights with their thumbs out, take it to the top!” This is the beginning of their student-led, student-created movement for positive peer pressure.

As we celebrate Chattanooga’s inaugural “Season for Nonviolence,” let’s support our city’s young leaders as they take the first steps in leading this movement for change in our community and beyond. 

As I often share with students, “The world is watching us, what are going to show them?”

Missy Crutchfield
City of Chattanooga Department of Education, Arts & Culture

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