For the first time, Nonviolence Week is being celebrated across Ohio.
The week kicks off at 3 p.m. Sunday with a parade.
The parade will begin in front of Youngstown State University’s Williamson School of Business on Wood Street and proceed south on Hazel Street to downtown Youngstown. A rally will follow at 20 Federal Place, the former Phar-Mor Centre.
The Nonviolence Rally is the idea of Youngstown Sojourn to the Past students. These students have participated in a 10-day journey to the civil-rights sites in the South where they not only met icons of the civil-rights movement, but also learned the lessons of the movement such as nonviolence, justice, civic responsibility, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and not being a silent witness.
They learned they have the power to make a difference, first in their own lives and then in their school and community. Before leaving Memphis, they developed an action plan to implement when they return home.
The 2009 students decided to have a Nonviolence Week in the Youngstown schools during the first week in October. In 2010, Sojourn students petitioned the Youngstown school board, the Youngstown city council and the Youngstown State University trustees, asking each of them to pass resolutions making the first week in October Nonviolence Week permanently, and they all did.
In 2012, the Mahoning County commissioners passed a similar resolution. In January 2013, at the request of Sojourn students, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, introduced into the Ohio Senate a “Nonviolence Week in Ohio” bill.
In July, Sojourn students were present when Gov. John Kasich signed the “Nonviolence Week in Ohio” bill into law. In 2011, the Sojourn students decided to have a Nonviolence Parade to usher in Nonviolence Week.
Participants at the rally include Schiavoni, Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, and Jeff Steinberg, director of Sojourn to the Past of San Mateo, Calif.
Plaques will be presented for the best banner and the best float that display the theme of nonviolence and peace. In addition, awards will be given for the non- violence art contest.
At the rally, there will be a board titled “Unforgettable Violence.”
People may bring pictures or write the names of a loved one or friend whose lives have been taken through violence and place them on the board.
The purpose of the event is to encourage members of the community to stop and think about the need for everyone to work for nonviolence in the community.
Steinberg will be speaking on the issue of Nonviolence at the main branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County at 6 p.m. next Monday. The public is invited.
Steinberg also will speak to Youngstown high-school students. He will be at Youngstown Early College and the Chaney Campus next Monday and at East High School on Oct. 8. Activities also have been planned on the YSU campus to celebrate Nonviolence Week.