Violence from global conflict is on a steady rise. War, oppression and other miseries have uprooted 60 million people, the greatest human displacement ever recorded. Foreign policy debates include calls for solving these problems with military action or other force. Dr. Martin Luther King believed that only nonviolent action can ultimately build peace and justice. But how? On April 4, the somber anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, USIP held a forum on ways to reclaim and re-frame nonviolent action against 21st-century global conflicts, extremisms, and injustices that fuel them. Researchers and activists discussed their recent or forthcoming books on nonviolent action and joined an audience-wide conversation and poll.

MLKLives
Pictured from left to right, Daryn Cambridge, Dr. Elavie Ndura, Matt Meyer, Dr. Maciej Bartkowski

In the 48 years since Dr. King was killed our world’s population has doubled. Crises that once were local or national are increasingly global. Their imagery, in 24/7 media coverage that did not exist in Dr. King’s day, fuel heated public discussion, in Europe, the United States and elsewhere, of how to respond.

USIP included participation in this event by holding an informal poll question on which excerpts from Dr. King’s writings are most relevant in 2016. The poll’s results opened the conversation on April 4.

Panelists in the forum have argued that seeing the current possibilities for nonviolent action requires that we more fully see its history. Author Matt Meyer is among scholars and activists who contend that the popular image of Dr. King has become blurred in a way that obscures what was his truly radical approach to justice and peace. Dr. Maciej Bartkowski points out in a 2013 book, Recovering Nonviolent History, that mainstream narratives have underestimated the worldwide role of nonviolent civil resistance, notably in national independence struggles. Prof. Elavie Ndura is co-editor of Exploring the Power of Nonviolence, which notes lessons on how nonviolent action can be most effective.

In an unusually interactive forum, the panelists posed critical questions of the audience, whose initial answers were used to shape the conversation around the room.

A half-century later, Dr. King’s message offers an indispensable approach for efforts to address global violence. Continue the conversation on Twitter with #MLKLivesOn.

Speakers

Matt Meyer
Educator, activist, and author

Dr. Maciej Bartkowski
Senior Director for Education, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

Dr. Elavie Ndura
Presidential Fellow and Professor of Education, George Mason University

Daryn Cambridge, Facilitator
Senior Program Officer, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

The Origins and Future of the Iran Crisis

The Origins and Future of the Iran Crisis

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

By: Robin Wright

The confrontation between the United States and Iran has shifted again as President Trump and the administration announced financial sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other Iranian officials. Within days, the crisis has spun from attacks on oil tankers to an Iranian missile strike on a U.S. military surveillance drone, all centered around the Persian Gulf, the economic artery for about a third of the world’s oil. Hours after President Trump announced the latest sanctions, USIP’s Robin Wright—who directs the Institute’s Iran Primer project—discussed where the crisis stands, and where it could turn.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

As China Projects Power in the Indo-Pacific, How Should the U.S. Respond?

As China Projects Power in the Indo-Pacific, How Should the U.S. Respond?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

By: Adam Gallagher

There is a growing bipartisan consensus in Washington that China’s ascendance is a major strategic concern for U.S. and international security and stability. This is reflected in the 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy, which recalibrates U.S. foreign policy to address the challenges posed to American power and interests from escalating geopolitical competition with China and Russia. After a recent trip to the Indo-Pacific region, Rep. Ed Case (D-HI) and Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) said they came away alarmed at how China is tightening its grip on U.S. allies across the region. What can the U.S. do to address China’s power projection and coercion in the Indo-Pacific and beyond?

Global Policy; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications