Peace and love were at the heart of MLK Jr.’ nonviolence policy

By William K. Alcorn


“One day a year, people should listen to a black Baptist preacher talk about Martin Luther King Jr. and how his nonviolence policies changed the world,” said the Rev. Dr. Willie James Jennings, guest speaker at Sunday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Worship Service in New Bethel Baptist Church.

Dr. King understood that “our real struggle is not against flesh and blood. ... It is against evil,” said the Rev. Mr. Jennings.

“We are giving in to the deepest white supremacy. We are in a struggle against greed, hatred and violence,” said Mr. Jennings, associate professor of systematic theology and Africana studies at Yale University. He has a doctorate from Duke University.

Mr. Jennings is a systematic theologian who teaches in the areas of theology, black church, Africana studies and post- colonial and race theory.

“We can’t afford to lose sight of the civil-rights movement, It gives us a way of life shaped by hope and love. We need this more than ever before,” Mr. Jennings said.

“People are dying needlessly every day, and people all around us don’t see it. I fear too many of us are losing the fight to fear. Black folks have always had to fight fear for their causes. Only faith defeats fear,” Mr. Jennings said.

“We need to stop creating communities of fear. Hope is a discipline. Hope says no to a world created by greed,” said Mr. Jennings, who is the author of “The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race,” published by Yale University Press.

A review said the book is one of the most important books written in theology in the last 25 years and is a standard text read in colleges, seminaries and universities.

“Love defines you. You cannot live a life of love and love weapons. It’s much easier to get a gun than to get an education,” he said.

“It’s a simple choice. Guns or God,” Mr. Jennings said.

He urged people to get involved in getting guns off the streets.

Mr. Jennings noted that Dr. King did not get into trouble until he said the United States makes too many weapons.

“And that will continue until we decide that we have enough being in a country with too many weapons,” he said.

The Martin Luther King Planning Committee, which sponsored Sunday’s event, published in its program Dr. King’s “Principles of Nonviolence.”

“At the center of nonviolence is the principle of love,” it reads.

It further says, “Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people; nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding; nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people; nonviolence holds that suffering for a cause can educate and transform; nonviolence chooses love instead of hate; nonviolence holds that the universe is on the side of justice and that right will eventually prevail.”

Among other speakers were the Rev. William Blake, director of the Youngstown State University Student Inclusion and Enrichment program, who discussed “Why We Celebrate;” and the Rev. Kenneth L. Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, co-convener of the program.

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