Editor’s Note From Rivera Sun
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. The United States commemorates his life and legacy with a federal holiday. Over the weekend, people across the nation are holding marches, rallies, teach-ins, talks for racial justice and nonviolence. Dr. King is part of a long lineage of nonviolent activists who have dedicated their lives (and sacrificed them) to ensure that although “the arc of the universe is long, it bends toward justice.”
This week, I want to lift up a story of a Black man who took a huge risk to move the arc of the universe toward justice. Devon Henry runs a construction company in Richmond, Virginia. One day, he got a call from public officials. The mass protests in 2020 had won the removal of confederate statues – but white contractors were refusing to take them down. Would Devon Henry do it?
It was dangerous. As the report said, “For a Black man to step in carried enormous risk. Henry concealed the name of his company for a time and long shunned media interviews. He has endured death threats, seen employees walk away and been told by others in the industry that his future is ruined. He started wearing a bulletproof vest on job sites … ” Henry persisted – and the monuments came down.
Change takes courage. It takes action. It takes persistence. When I look at Nonviolence News stories this week, I am reminded of how Archimedes said, “give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I will move the world”. Justice, fairness, dignity, respect, compassion, peace – these are places to stand, bedrocks of human rights, visions for a better world. Nonviolent action is the lever we use to move the present moment toward that vision of our future. In my version of this analogy, millions of people are pushing on that lever. After all, according to physics, the more of us who throw our weight on the side of justice, the better chance we have of making a shift.
The shape of our world today was forged by the efforts of those who came before us, from the labor strikes to the environmental protections to peace movements to racial justice campaigns, LGBTQIA struggles, pro-democracy and suffrage movements, and much more. We honor these struggles by continuing them, whether we are nurses on strike for better working conditions (pictured above), citizens standing up for democracy (like Brazilian protesters countering Bolsonaro’s coup attempt), Argentine community members opposing lithium mining, Germans getting arrested for blockading a coal mine, Afghan men quitting universities to stand with the women who are banned from attending, or any of the other many stories we collected for this week’s Nonviolence News.
Keep moving the universe.
Photo Credit: Nurses and supporters strike on a picket line outside St. Thomas’ Hospital on December 20, 2022, in London, United Kingdom.
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