Whose voice will be heard? And when?

Nonviolence is essential to achieve our shared goals

Ron EdwardsLast week we wrote about concerns regarding the 18 days of demonstration by Black Lives Matter and the NAACP, and others, including the laying of siege to the Fourth Precinct in North Minneapolis.

Residents recognized the historic injustices behind the demonstrations, but having their own lives to live, they complained of how some behaved and how it disrupted their daily lives.

Our concern is that demonstrators in Minneapolis (and other cities) not lose support of those who agree with them because of objectionable methods. This is why Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not let people march unless they signed the pledge to do so nonviolently. He knew success would come by making friends, not enemies, if they were to be influential.

Blacks did the same in South Africa. Nellie Stone Johnson and I worked with Bishop Tutu, who in turn, of course, worked with Nelson Mandela and F.W. De Klerk to end South Africa’s Apartheid, using nonviolence to peaceably achieve success through their Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

They dismantled apartheid with love and forgiveness (“Ubuntu”), just as the relatives of those killed in Charlotte promoted last month. Gandhi did the same thing in India. Thurgood Marshall led the team that argued successfully before the Supreme Court to make discrimination unlawful.

Love, not hate, sounds trite, but there is a “Golden Rule” in every major religion on the planet (listed on p. 62 of my book).

Education is key, from Martin Luther’s 16th century catechism for use in homes, to the Pilgrims at Jamestown, to hidden signs and secret meetings for slaves to learn to read, to American frontier McGuffey’s Reader, to Mao’s Little Red Book, to Martin Luther King’s Why We Can’t Wait and Letter from a Birmingham Jail, among others.

Of greatest concern is how the ill-treating of police will be effective in influencing changes in police behavior. Demonstrating is fine. One of our freedoms. Our concern is that it be done in such a way that friends can be made with those one is trying to influence. University administrators may be weak-kneed, but elected officials and police are not.

The Civil Rights Movement collapses when the Bill of Rights, due process, and the rights of others are not supported. We urge all interested in our communities to develop action plans and then act on those plans to improve education so that jobs and housing can be made possible.

We need to be united as a community to achieve shared goals. Damaging credibility of key organizations damages opportunities for Minnesota’s African Americans.

Unwanted negative commentary about the NAACP and its military wing, Black Lives Matter, blocks dealing with the issues of the day, as does berating and insulting African American police officers. And yet, so far, no organization has stepped up to ask about reconciliation. Time to do so.

We hear rumors that National NAACP in Baltimore is not happy with leaders of the Minneapolis branch. If so, there may yet be hope for the national NAACP.

We know the National NAACP expects a meeting of the branch leadership and membership before Christmas to assess (1) strengths, (2) weaknesses, (3) the damage to the Minneapolis NAACP in light of the occupation, and (4) to assess other relationships of the NAACP branch with the Department of Justice, the offices of Governor Mark Dayton, and with other organizations, Black and White. We urge attention be paid to developing real plans (and we offer the 46 “solution papers” archived on our “The Minneapolis Story” website as available resources).

We fully recognize the Black police officers whose thin blue line is desperately attempting to improve police-community relations. For our own sakes, we as a community need to rise above all the noise and anger and work out our own formula of peace.

Stay tuned.