Visiting Marion

This week has really kicked the program off! We have a bunch of nonviolence trainings scheduled, and the interns are really excited about them all! We started off Monday with a trip to Greensboro, AL, to talk to some local non-profits there about trainings. The first was extremely interested and set up two trainings for their employees and the community for next week! Then we stopped in Marion to see the site where Jimmy Lee Jackson was shot. I’m not sure that I’d been there before, and honestly, the marker is pretty sad. Jimmy Lee Jackson was the trigger for the Voting Rights March, but the restaurant where he was shot has been torn down and made into a parking lot for the funeral home next door, and there’s just a small plaque commemorating his death. It’s such a shame that these towns cannot respect or decide what happened in history enough to honor the sacrifices made in the past.

We went to a restaurant in Marion, also, where the owner heard about our trainings and came up to us to say how much she admired and appreciated our work. She told us a bit of her story where she grew up getting into fights and dealing with conflict violently, but how she’s turned a new leaf and wants to teach her grandchildren and anyone else that it doesn’t work. She uses herself as an example of how violence can negatively impact one’s life. It was really beautiful to hear her speak; she was clearly still affected by her past actions, but she went through them in order to pay the lessons forward. She was an amazing woman.

We came back to Selma and worked on planning for the upcoming trainings; Tuesday we did some more planning and a good deal of practicing for the trainings. Wednesday was our first training, at RATCo’s Art Camp! We came up with games to play with the kids, according to their age group, that demonstrated the basics of nonviolence training. The kids got a lot out of it, and it was really beautiful to watch them go through some of the activities. One of the activities had them get candy, but there wasn’t enough for everyone; we either wanted them to find a healthy way to handle the conflict or to get upset. Either would lead to a great discussion about how we react to conflict and what’s affective, but the younger kids, whom I was with, all shared their candy and gave up their own to each of their friends without us even prompting them to. It was really beautiful to watch!

The next day, trainings were with GED students at the local community college. They were shorter, but the students seemed to get a lot out of them. This weekend, we took a trip to Atlanta, where the interns were able to visit the National Civil and Human Rights Center and the King Center. This week is packed with trainings with local teachers, campus police, and non-profits! We’re also beginning to create a structured training for teachers to give to their students; we’re hoping to roll it out this year with a Foundation volunteer that works in an elementary school in Fayetteville, GA. Her district is really interested in the trainings, so this could be a great place to see how the program works in order to advertise it to other schools!

Sam Lee ’16