As Chattanooga commemorates its first annual “Season for Nonviolence” this year, the City of Chattanooga Department of Education, Arts & Culture led by Administrator Missy Crutchfield, held a weeklong “Celebrating Freedom” program in partnership with the Mary Walker Foundation.
Learning to read when she was over 100 years old, local African American historical figure Mary Walker left a legacy for all ages. The “Season for Nonviolence” marks the time between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassinations (January 30-April 4) and celebrates their legacies and awareness of nonviolence with events and activities across the city.
Celebrating literacy and freedom through the nonviolence movement in America was the theme for this second annual Black History Month partnership with senior residents at Mary Walker Towers opening their doors to their young neighbors across the street at The Howard School.
Each day featured intergenerational readings, Civil Rights films, and conversations with seniors who experienced the Civil Rights Movement, participated in sit-ins, and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Reverend John L. Edwards, Jr. and his son John L. Edwards III led panel discussions on the local Civil Rights movement.
Students and seniors shared six-word memoirs—their statements for changing the world today. At the end of the week, books were given to the students, after they read passages from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Reverend Edwards signed the books for the students in recognition of his time spent working and marching with Dr. King in Nashville.
Education, Arts & Culture Administrator Missy Crutchfield said, “Many of our students today do not identify with the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement and the work of nonviolence, but as we have developed this second annual ‘Celebrating Freedom,’ a unique partnership with intergenerational conversations and literacy with youth and seniors, the students are recognizing the importance of past events and their position in leading the movement for change today.”