Violence Is Not The Answer
It did not take long for Nyle Fort to feel the energy on Bucknell University’s campus during Martin Luther King Jr. Week. The events that encompassed the “Violence of Hate” series, presented by the President’s Diversity Council, included lectures from Fort and eight others, all connecting their stories to Dr. King’s message. Nyle notes that in walking onto campus he was pleased to see that university had created a space, for students and faculty alike, to begin to talk about topics was a country too often sweep under the rug.
Fort spoke to his audience about Dr. King’s message in a way that related it to the world today. In the world we live in we have made great strides in the war against violence, but we are far from the end of the battle. Originally set to have conversations with students in the form of a monolog, Fort opened his timeslot to Reverend James Lawson and the two shared in a conversation on the importance of nonviolent resistance. Reverend Lawson worked with Dr. King and his talk allowed students to hear firsthand what it was like to grow up during that time period. Throughout the conversation, Nyle spoke about the Black Lives Matter Movement currently in action, while Lawson commented on the time of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the creative ways in which problems could be solved. Meshing together the two different generations allowed for the direct connection between Dr. King’s message and how it applies to the world today.
Both Fort and Lawson share a similar passion and focused on educating the audience on how far the power of love and solidarity can go. Jahi Omari, Bucknell Class of 2017, was quoted in the school newspaper saying, “I believe that if people are provided with examples of nonviolence actually working, then [they] will be more convinced that people can live peacefully.” In each of their stories, they both discuss the importance of spreading King’s message and living a legacy he would be proud of.
Regardless of their beliefs on the subject matter, attendees were invested in the event and had meaningful conversations with both speakers following the event. According to Fort, “We live in a very exciting and very devastating time. We can look at a host of issues – mass incarceration, police brutality, economic inequality, climate change and so on – to see that we still have a lot of work to do. With the way society is organized today, and the events that are occurring in regards to hatred and violence, the role of Universities is to challenge us to think more deeply and act more courageously in the fight for a world free from violence and oppression.”
Nyle believes that all universities have an obligation to challenge students to address the most important moral issues of our day. In reflecting after the event, he talked about the importance to provide a space, like Bucknell did, to have difficult conversations. Honest and critical dialogue is a first step towards inventing a future where all lives matter.