Watertown Group Using MLK’s Teachings to Address Racial Injustice, Bigotry

People kneel in memory of George Floyd and others during a candlelight vigil in Watertown Square co-sponsored by the Kingian Response Team and the Watertown Police Department. Tuesday night, dozens of people gathered in Watertown Square holding lanterns and candles in a vigil for George Floyd and others, and to speak out against racism and bigotry. The event was one of the first efforts of the Kingian Nonviolence Response Team, which grew out of a program that has its roots in the Watertown Public Schools. The Kingian group has plans to work with the Watertown Police Department, the Watertown Public Schools and the Town Council to reduce what they see as systemic racism in these local institutions. And much of the effort is being led by current Watertown students who learned King’s teachings in the Kingian Nonviolence program at Watertown Middle School.

Kingian Nonviolence Group, Watertown Police Sponsoring Vigil in Square

Watertown Square will be the location for a vigil in memory of George Floyd co-sponsored by the Kingian Response Team and the Watertown Police Department. The following announcement was provided by the Kingian Response Team:

CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL TUESDAY, JULY 28TH 7:30-8:30 p.m.

The Kingian Response Team in collaboration with the Watertown Police Department is sponsoring a vigil which will include a Silent Reflection in memory of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives due to racial bigotry and injustice. The Silent Reflection will run from 8:15 p.m.– 8:23 p.m.

Locations:

1) Watertown Square, including the delta & along Main & Mt. Auburn St. Please bring your phone or flashlight instead of candles in public spaces.

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.