Kingian Nonviolence inspires punishment changes


ETHS staff and students visit North Lawndale College Prep, which practices the Kingian Nonviolence philosophy. Photo courtesy of Addie Wyatt Center.

Caroline Jacobs, Feature Editor

Whether you’ve only been through one semester of freshman year or you’re a second semester senior, most ETHS students have witnessed a fight get out of hand and sat by idly, letting the altercation continue and even encouraging it by videotaping or chanting. ETHS is not the only school with this problem. Other schools and organizations have witnessed the normalization of violence and are adapting the Kingian Nonviolence Philosophy.

This philosophy, based on ideas proposed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is gaining popularity and may even make its way to ETHS. Kingian Nonviolence lays the framework for individuals to deal with conflict effectively without resorting to violence. Outlined by six principles that promote courage, community, and justice, Kingian Nonviolence provides skills and strategies to change the way we approach everyday problems and disagreements.

It has already made its way to North Lawndale College Prep, a charter high school on the West Side of Chicago. This school has implemented nonviolence strategies which have significantly reduced the number of fights among students. For one, some students participate in training to become what they call “peace warriors”. Peace warriors are designated to work with staff to resolve conflict in a nonviolent manner.

A group of ETHS staff, including New Student Transition Coordinator Alicia Hart, have visited North Lawndale to see how they have implemented Kingian Nonviolence.

“I was inspired to see young people leading such important work with staff engagement and connectivity,” says Hart, recognizing that the model in place at North Lawndale will not translate exactly to ETHS, as there are many differences between the schools.

Hart also believes that the implementation of Kingian Nonviolence is not going to happen overnight. It will take time to

create a culture shift and to develop the trust needed to adapt the philosophy.

In order to successfully adapt Kingian Nonviolence, individuals attend trainings, offered by a few different organizations in the area including the Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training. The Addie Wyatt Center holds workshops to teach more about the concept of Kingian Nonviolence and how it can be used in a variety of settings.

Junior Leah Brieva participated in a training in November and found the experience valuable.

“We had lots of conversations about what justice means and issues in the community and how we can solve them,” says Brieva.

Leading the initiative to understand the role Kingian Nonviolence could play at ETHS is Associate Principal for Educational Services Keith Robinson. Robinson, who has not been trained himself, feels that the first step to adapting this philosophy at ETHS is making it more widely known.

“You have to get the word out and provide opportunities for students to learn more about what it is,” says Dr. Robinson, “The more students who are involved, the quicker

we can get the word out.”

However, there are some students who are still hesitant as to how effective Kingian Nonviolence would be at ETHS.

“I think it’s a good idea, but I don’t think it is going to work. We are high school students and I don’t think we are going to want to sit and listen to someone talk to us about nonviolence,” sophomore Ana Glassman says.

It is too early to say how Kingian Nonviolence will look ETHS, but there is talk that it may alter the way discipline is done at ETHS. ETHS will be led to focus more on improvement rather than punishment. The discipline committee has begun to discuss the idea about implementing Kingian Nonviolence as a possible option, but no definite changes have been made.

While the future of Kingian Nonviolence at ETHS is not certain, the school is currently trying to organize a nonviolence training in March. The philosophy may inspire some major changes in the way ETHS talks about and deals with violence.