Watertown’s Effort to Bring MLK’s Teachings to Schools Honored at Unity Breakfast

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.

Students Lead Effort to Bring Kingian Non-Violence, Reconciliation Circles to WHS

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.

WMS’s Kingian Nonviolence Program Expanding to More Watertown Schools

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.

Minister of First Parish Bidding Church, Watertown Farewell

Mark Harris, minister of the First Parish Church of Watertown, received the 2019 Unity Award. He helped start the event, and will be retiring from the church later this year. After 23 years, the Rev. Mark Harris will leave Watertown’s First Parish Church Unitarian Universalist where he made his mark with his congregation and the wider community. Harris’ time as minister of First Parish Church runs through the end of July, but he gave his last sermon in early June. In September, he and his wife, Andrea Greenwood, will move to Maine.

Mother Shares Her Mission of Ending the Cycle of Violence After Losing Her Son in a Shooting

Tina Chéry shared the story of how she became dedicated to peace after her son was gunned down in his Boston neighborhood with an audience at Watertown Middle School. In the early 1990s, Tina Chéry thought she had found her place in the world as a stay-at-home mom and good citizen, as someone who attended church and donated to people in need, even if she felt removed from the problems that affected her Dorchester neighborhood. The mother of three and her husband had cut back on spending so she could be there when her 15-year-old son Louis Brown came home from school every day. Theirs was the family who welcomed in the neighborhood children, with hotdogs and hamburgers, and lemonade and popsicles in the summer. “That was my house.

MLK Friend: Watertown Embraces King’s Principles Like No Other Community

Watertown has embraced the non-violence teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. like no other community, according to a Civil Rights activist and good friend of King. 

On Thursday afternoon a celebration for the dedication of the mural created on the back wall of the Watertown Boys & Girls Club was attended by Dr. Bernard Lafayette. The mural, called “The Time is Always Right,” features bright paints and sections of mosaics which demonstrate the six principles of Kingian Nonviolence (and the words on the mural):

Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people (Have Courage)
The Beloved Community is the framework for the future (Be Kind)
Attack forces of evil, not people doing evil (Don’t Hate, Solve)
Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve a goal (Stay the Course)
Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence (Love Yourself)
The Universe is on the side of justice (Trust)

Lafayette knows King’s teachings well. He has dedicated his life to spreading the nonviolence movement by teaching others how to use the principles and become Kingian instructors themselves. Two years ago he came to Watertown to teach 24 students, 17 school staff and three police officers. Since then, that group has reached more than 2,500 people in different events, according to Ruth Henry, a Watertown Middle School teacher who helped bring the Kingian principles to town.

Dedication of New Mural Featuring MLK’s Nonviolent Teachings Coming Soon

This week, a mural focusing on the nonviolence teachings of Martin Luther King will be dedicated. The ceremony outside the Watertown Boys & Girls Club will be attended by a friend of MLK and Civil Rights leader, who teaches nonviolent conflict resolution. The effort to spread Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to nonviolent conflict resolution started in Watertown several years ago. In 2016, the Watertown Public Schools trained students and teachers in the Kingian philosophy and welcomed Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a friend of MLK who helped him in his Civil Rights efforts. Lafayette will return to town on Thursday, June 7, 2018, for the dedication of the mural next to the basketball courts outside the Watertown Boys & Girls Club.

Mural Making, Kingian Nonviolence Training & Civil Rights Leader Coming to Watertown

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.