Teaching Nonviolence in an Age of Violence


When I was a young girl, my father transcribed from memory some of King’s great speeches and asked me to memorize them myself. Later, he bought old records with recordings of the speeches — ‘‘The Drum Major Instinct,’’ ‘‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’’ — and when I wasn’t too busy being a child, he would make me listen to them, again and again. By the time I was in high school, writing essays about the civil rights movement came easily. I had a vernacular and a mode of analysis, and also a discipline. I had learned by repetition how to question authority.

Syreeta McFadden writes about teaching nonviolence and Dr. Martin Luther King in the wake of Freddie Gray.

Lyz's writing has been published in the New York Times Motherlode, Jezebel, Aeon, Pacific Standard, and others. Her book on midwestern churches is forthcoming from Indiana University Press. She has her MFA from Lesley and skulks about on Twitter @lyzl. Lyz is a member of The Rumpus Advisory Board and a full-time staff writer for the Columbia Journalism Review. More from this author →