Watertown High School students (from left) Catherine Fabian, Eva Henry and Claire Fabian led the effort to bring the Kingian Nonviolence Principles and Reconciliation Circles to WHS. A group of Watertown High School students took what they learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles of non-violence at the middle school and created a program to be used with all students at WHS. The efforts have been recognized by district leaders, and education officials at the state level. Those interested in the effort can take part in upcoming events, including Community Introduction to Restorative Justice Circles on Wednesday, Dec. 11, in the WHS Lecture Hall, from 6-8 p.m.
The following piece was provided by those involved in the effort at Watertown High School:
Background and Context
The Kingian Principles of Nonviolent Conflict Reconciliation were the basis for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work in the Civil Rights Movement.
A closeup of the section of Watertown’s Kingian Nonviolence Mural featuring Martin Luther King. An effort to teach students and teachers about Dr. Martin Luther King’s nonviolence teachings that began four years ago at Watertown Middle School has now spread to all the Watertown Public Schools. Organizers hope that the program can get regular financial support to keep it going. Over the years, the Kingian Nonviolence teaching has spread from a small group of students at Watertown Middle School to include more teachers, Watertown Police officers and town residents. Now WMS offers a class focusing on the subject, and students from the middle school have sought to spread it to the other schools in town.
This spring there will be many ways for community residents, both young and old, to get involved with Watertown’s Kingian Nonviolence initiative, said local organizers. Kingian nonviolence is a train- the-trainer model created by civil rights leader, Dr. Bernard Lafayette, that applies Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy and methods to current conflicts. Community Mural Project: One way to get involved is through a mixed media mural to be created on the back wall of the Watertown Boys & Girls Club. On March 3rd, 17th, and 31st project organizers will host a series of free tile painting/making and mosaic-building workshops at HATCH Makers’ Space (20 Summer St.), to create pieces of the mural. There will also be a free tile painting/making workshop at the Mosesian Center for the Arts on March 10th as part of a Spring Festival.
The Watertown Kingian Nonviolence Coordinating Committee announced a new community training course on “Kingian Nonviolent Conflict Reconciliation.”
The 16-hour course will be held on two Saturdays, August 19 and 26, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the Community Room of the Watertown Police Department, 552 Main Street. The course is co-sponsored by World in Watertown with support from the Watertown Police Department, and has been made possible by a significant grant from the Watertown Community Foundation. The Kingian Nonviolence Coordinating Committee is excited to share this fun and interactive curriculum with the community. It was co-authored by Dr. Bernard LaFayette and David Jehnsen to teach how Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy and methodology can be applied to present-day conflicts, both personal and societal. The course will be taught by youth and faculty trainers from the Watertown Public Schools, as well as officers from the Watertown Police Department.
Members of the School Committee and Watertown school officials separately put out statements about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and racial inequity. John Portz, chair of the Watertown School Committee, read the following statement on behalf of the School Committee at Monday night’s meeting:
The tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the demonstrations that have followed across the country are witness to the racial injustices that continue in our society. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote many years ago, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
As a school committee, we share the outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death and the frustrations felt by many in failures to address long-standing injustices and inequities in American society.
As a school district, we continue our commitment to equity and respect for differences, through the Responsive Classroom curriculum, Kingian Non-Violence work, the Anti-Bias Coalition, and other district activities in the classroom, in the curriculum, and in all ways that we conduct ourselves as a district.
We stand together denouncing these continued acts of racism and violence against people of color across our country. The following letter was provided by the administration of the Watertown Public Schools:
Dear Watertown Public Schools Community,
We are profoundly disturbed by the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd as well as Ahmaud Arbery’s killing in Georgia and Breonna Taylor’s in Kentucky. We are all negatively impacted by such acts, whether as victims, perpetrators, or bystanders. The families, friends, and community members of these individuals, and the countless others who have been lost to violence, are forever impacted. To our Black Families, Students, and Community Members, although we recognize and empathize with the hurt and the fear you live with on a daily basis, we know we need to and can do more. Please know, we will work every single day with others throughout our strong Watertown community to make our schools and community places for all of us to thrive and prosper, regardless of race or any other aspect of human diversity.
The men and women of the Watertown Police Department are deeply disturbed by the death of Mr. George Floyd. We share the public’s outrage and disappointment, and will not let the actions of a few officers tear away the trust we share with our great community.
Please see Chief Lawn’s response to emails he received concerning this horrific incident. Good Afternoon-
The men and women of the Watertown Police Department are deeply disturbed by the actions of those police officers in Minneapolis. I personally was sick to my stomach watching that video. I am very proud of the work that the men and women of the WPD do every day. We should not be judged or painted with the same brush by incidents that occur in other states.
A mural created by Watertown High School students for the 20th annual Unity Breakfast. The Watertown Unity Breakfast celebrated the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. for the 20th time on Monday with a record crowd. World in Watertown hosted the first Unity Breakfast in 2001 at the then Phillips Congregational Church (now the Redeemer Fellowship Church) and about 150 people attended, said Susan Kuder, chair of World in Watertown. The idea for Watertown having an event to honor Dr. King came from the Rev. Mark Harris, who recently retired as minister of the First Parish Church of Watertown. The Unity Breakfast reminded retired Watertown Police Officer Tony Physic of MLK Day celebrations he attended growing up in Boston.
The Watertown High six students who received the Unity Award for their work spreading Kingian Non-violence teachings to WHS. Pictured from left, Fred Laboissiere, Tino Themelis, Eva Henry, Claire abian, Catherine Fabian and Shivani Sharma. The people who brought the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. to the Watertown schools and the community came together, and were honored during the the 20th annual Watertown Unity Breakfast on Monday. The annual celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been put on by the World in Watertown for two decades, and at the 2020 breakfast the local efforts to teach the principles of Kingian Non-violence in town were at the forefront. The keynote speaker was one of those who trained Watertown teachers, students and police about applying King’s non-violence teachings today, and the Unity Award went to six students who spread MLK’s teachings to Watertown High School.