Initiated in 1998, The Season of Nonviolence was created to honor the lives and legacies of Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez and Wilma Mankiller. Each of those individuals any many others fought for human rights without using violence. Throughout the month of January, Central Oregon Community Colleg hosted events to raise awareness of the ideals of the Season of Nonviolence. The event is honored worldwide as well as here at C.O.C.C.. The event is put on by Karen Roth, Director of Multicultural Activities at C.O.C.C..
“It’s easy to glamorize violence,” said Dr. Jessica Hammerman, COCC history professor. “In movies, music, and other media violence is depicted as entertainment.”
As part of the Season of Nonviolence, COCC hosted Cuban-American poet, Richard Blanco. Blanco was United States President Barack Obama’s inaugural poet and is currently a writer, engineer, teacher and memoirist. At the inauguration, Blanco read his poem ““One Today.” During his presentation at COCC, Blanco spoke to the difficulties growing up as a homosexual and how his grandmother would ridicule him for it.
“My So Called Enemy” a movie by Lisa Gossels, was also shown at COCC to honor the Season of Nonviolence. The documentary follows young women in Israel and Palestine who after attending a leadership program in New York return to their war torn countries where their friendships are put to the test. The differences in religion, and culture makes it difficult for these neighboring cultures to coexist. Some of these young women continue to fight for the violence to stop and have peace between their countries.
This movie was symbolic of the current need ot individuals willing to stand up against injustice, according to Karen Roth, director of Multicultural Activities at COCC.
“There remains a need for us to speak up against injustice,” said Roth. “There is too much violence and injustice in in the world. It has been raging on for centuries. From race to sexuality to religion and so on, we as a civilized world need to continue the fight started by King, Gandhi, Chavez, Mankiller, and Nelson Mandela.”
This dissatisfaction is what will eventually lead to change, according to Hammerman.
“It’s good to be dissatisfied with the way things are” said Hammerman. We need to “protest loud” and make our voices heard around the world.
COCC will continue offering events representative of the Season of Nonviolence throughout winter term. These events are a “good prerequisite to start using freedom to stop violence,” Hammerman said.
Will Nye | The Broadside