Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spinning the peace wheel at the MLK Day Festival

Three of us with NOY had a literature table at the MLK Day Celebration held near Huston-Tillotson University following the march from UT and the capitol on Monday, Jan. 19th. We had a great time! The weather was excellent, and hundreds of people marched, visited our info tables and listened to music. There was definititely a joyful buzz in the air since MLK Day was also the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration, and there were probably more Obama shirts than MLK shirts to be seen.
We brought our usual literature as well as the Peace Wheel of Fortune, which was very well-received. We gave away silk-screened patches, fortune cookies, NOY buttons, "It's My Life!" books and "Addicted to War" books.
On the peace wheel this time, we had: Barbara Jordan, MLK, Gandhi, Julia Butterfly Hill, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Cesar Chavez, John Lennon, Helen Keller, Aung San Suu Kyi, Flobots and local poet, Gator. As described in earlier posts about the peace wheel, folks are invited to spin the wheel, and if they can tell us something about the accomplishments of the peacemaker on which the ticker stops, they choose one of our fabulous prizes!
The wheel attracted a variety of ages - elementary school through older adults.
Here's the info sheet we gave out. So ... study up!
Peace Heroes and Sheroes
People achieving justice, peace and freedom through creative nonviolence

Gator is an award-winning poet and emcee in Austin who was president of his class at Reagan High School. He has been active with the Texas Youth Word Collective and his band, Public Offender.

Bernice Johnson Reagon is a composer, scholar, educator, performer and founder of the African American a cappella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock. As a college student, she was active in the Civil Rights Movement and was an original member of the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) Freedom Singers in 1962.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968) is perhaps the best known of all US Civil Rights leaders. Following methods used by Gandhi and the freedom movement in India, King’s oratory, writings and personal example directed the movement in using nonviolent strategies such as mass marches, boycotts, sit-ins and direct negotiations in achieving equal rights.

John Lennon (1940 – 1980) was a member of the British rock band, The Beatles, and also had a successful solo career. He and his spouse, Yoko Ono were outspoken peace advocates who expressed their views through music and performance art.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel peace laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma who has lived under house arrest in Burma/Myanmar for some 15 years. Even though the government is ruled by a military junta, she is considered a leader by the Burmese people and continues to urge nonviolent resistance to the regime.

Cesar Chavez (1927 – 1993) led worker strikes, boycotts and marches for higher wages and better working conditions for agricultural workers in the US, including South Texas. He and Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers, led the successful California grape boycott and helped organize other labor organizations in Texas and the Midwest. A statue of Chavez stands on the UT campus.

Julia Butterfly Hill is a poet, speaker and environmental activist who lived for two years on a platform 18 stories high in a 1,000 year-old redwood tree in California as a protest against clear-cutting. Her book about that experience, The Legacy of Luna, was published in 2000.

Flobots is a rock/hip-hop band based in Denver. Their lyrics promote nonviolent social change. Their current release is Fight With Tools.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869 – 1948) was one of the most influential nonviolent activists in history. He helped lead India to independence from British Colonial Rule and his nonviolent methods inspired MLK and others in the US Civil Rights Movement.

Helen Keller (1880 –1968) was the first deafblind person to graduate from college. She learned to speak and became a world traveler and author who was outspoken in her advocacy for peace, women’s voting rights and labor rights.

Barbara Jordan (1936 – 1996) was an attorney who, in 1966, became the first African- American woman voted into the Texas Senate and, in 1972, the first black woman from a southern state voted into the US House of Representatives. She later taught at the LBJ School for Public Affairs in Austin.

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