Martin Luther King Jr. celebrated in K-W

Monday’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. both celebrated his life and promoted non-violence.  (Photo by Heather Davidson)

Monday’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. both celebrated his life and promoted non-violence. (Photo by Heather Davidson)

In recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Non-violence Festival in Kitchener held their seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

The event brought speakers, spoken word artists and musicians together to honour the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and the impact his life has had on subsequent generations.

“The event is about celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and all of his work,” said Matthew Albrecht, co-founder of the Nonviolence Festival and the celebration held Monday night. “We wanted to get across that non-violence is not just something of the past.”

“We want to instead not only look at the symptoms of the problem, but also the root of the problem, which is that violence is seen as acceptable.”

The event saw an array of performers, showcasing their talents and insights into the messages put forth during the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Speaking on the importance of the performances, Albrecht said it was another way of challenging non-violence.

“Spoken word and music is another way we felt we could communicate the message of the event, adding visuals and sounds to the words spoken by King,” he said. “It was just another way of communicating the messages throughout the event.”

Cheyenne Gold, a third-year global studies student at Laurier, was one of the spoken word performers at the event. She held the event in high esteem.

“This kind of celebration is important because a lot of people dismiss non-violence as idealistic or non-feasible,” Gold explained. “I think it’s important for people to understand not only the success of non-violence in the past, but also the potential of non-violence in the future.”

When asked why she felt the event was important within the community, Gold said she believes in the collective cooperation and understanding of the cause it promotes.

“It’s a way of bringing people together in the community and makes its aims of equality and peace seem feasible looking into the future.”

The celebration paid tribute to King in various ways, including speaking on the accomplishments he made such as his infamous ‘I had a Dream’ speech.

“His life is incredible, and to look at the obscenities today and the amount of people who don’t know what to do about it is frightening,” said Albrecht. “King was about transcending those problems and overcoming these issues, and hopefully this event can help people overcome issues in their own lives.”

Following the conclusion of the event, Albrecht hoped that people left with the continuing thought that nonviolence is something important in practice all the time.

“Non-violence is as simple as treating others the way you would want to be treated. We need to recognize the humanity in ourselves and in those around us.”

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