By Marc Kovac
Janae Ward made the three-hour trip from Youngstown to the Statehouse on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to pass legislation spotlighting the nonviolent protest of leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and the importance of following their example today.
“If this method worked for them, then it surely will work for us,” said Wade, a member of Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, a group that takes Youngstown high-school students southern cities to learn about the people and events of the Civil Rights Movement. “I urge you to pass this bill creating a Nonviolence Week in Ohio, because it will open the eyes of people in the state of Ohio to the need for nonviolence.”
Wade and others offered testimony to the Ohio House’s Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security committees as proponents of Senate Bill 38, which would declare the first full week of October as Nonviolence Week.
The Youngstown group has played host to voter- registration drives, coordinated a parade and other special events for students and the community and encouraged city-council members to adopt a resolution officially recognizing the occasion.
“The Sojourn students feel that as a result of Nonviolence Week, awareness has been raised in the Youngstown area about the issue of nonviolence, even if only for one week,” Penny Wells, director of the Sojourn group, said in written testimony presented to lawmakers Tuesday. “They would like to see this occur all across the state of Ohio. The students feel that violence is a constant in their lives. By violence, they mean not only physical but verbal as well.”
The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, at the urging of the Youngstown students.