Presented by:
Terrance “Teejay” Morris and Victor Nolet

Audience: Community, Educators, Human Rights / Social Justice Professionals        Workshop capacity: 100

Dr. King emphasized that that creative extremism is an expression of love and based on non-violence. A commitment to nonviolence can be challenging in today’s world when contention and conflict are infused into every facet of dominant culture. Indeed, violence is fundamental to the governance and economic structures of the United States and many other countries around the world. A deep commitment to nonviolence starts with an examination of our own thoughts, speech and behavior. Nonviolence is more than simply not engaging in physical violence. For example, Gandhi referred to his form of nonviolence as satyagraha, meaning “truth-force” or “love-force.” Practicing satyagraha means a person should seek truth and love while refusing, through nonviolent resistance, to participate in something they believe is wrong. Committing to nonviolent loving kindness is an act of radical creative extremism today. This session will encourage discussion and practice in small groups to help all of us better see the ways that violence permeates our lives. We will work in small groups to brainstorm and practice strategies for incorporating nonviolence into our daily lives and our work as human rights and justice activists.

We will examine Dr. King’s work and words directly including the Letter from Birmingham Jail and other speeches and writings from Dr. King. Our session is intended to help participants think deeply about what kind of creative extremist they want to be and to practice strategies for becoming nonviolent activists.

Dr. King emphasized nonviolence throughout his career and writings. His work was based on his spiritual practice as a Southern Baptist minister as well as his academic work as an education scholar. In addition to his training as a Baptist minister, he also studied with Buddhist and Hindu teachers in India and studied the work of Mahatma Gandhi. Dr. King drew heavily on Gandhian principles of nonviolence in his own civil rights activism. He wrote that “while the Montgomery boycott was going on, India’s Gandhi was the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.” Our session will examine Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolence directly and participants will practice strategies for enacting Dr. King’s nonviolence values.

Participants will have opportunities to participate in discussions, brainstorm ideas to share with the larger group and work in small groups to build skills and explore the ideas and strategies being discussed more deeply. We also will share resources with participants to help them continue the work after the conference is over. Our intention is that participants will leave the session with an understanding of what nonviolence entails, develop skills for incorporating nonviolence into their own lives and activism work, and be disposed to commit to nonviolence as a form of creative extremism. Participants also will have the opportunity to help create and join a process for following the session with deeper work in this area and continued skill building in the months ahead. 

Terrance “Teejay” Morris [They, He, Him] has spent his entire career serving the community. Growing up in Chicago, Terrance developed a passion for social justice at the age of 11. Terrance leadership started by serving as a Youth Community Facilitator with the Rainbow Push Coalition under the leadership of Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. During his university years Terrance worked with Equality Nation and Great Circle where he worked with LGBTQA homeless youth in the DC metro area. Later to work with Youth Services Center Juvenile detention center in Washington, D.C. Terrance would educate them on how to advocate for their rights and be who they are. He would travel the US facilitating/consulting conversations about equity, diversity, inclusion. In 2012 Terrance settled down in St. Louis, MO where he worked with at-risk homeless youth, where he provided practical support and guidance to his clients, assisting them with benefits and healthcare and creating support plans.  After the death of Michael Brown, Terrance and his partner decided to move to Bellingham. After a short time living in Bellingham, he brought the community together by diving into hard conversations and willingness to lean in. He works as an Adolescent Housing Services Program Manager with Northwest Youth Services and is the founder of Bellingham Unity Committee. You can see his work in action with the 5,000+ attending the Solidarity Rally, Ascendants of the Movement Black History, Bellingham Juneteenth and the Unity Ball.

Victor Nolet [He, They] is an emeritus professor of education at Western Washington University. Previously, he worked as a special education teacher at the middle and high school levels and as a community caseworker. For the past 12 years, his writing and research has been in the area of education for sustainability, with a particular emphasis in climate and economic justice. Victor began his career as a VISTA volunteer in Columbus Ohio, helping to shut down a state institution for people with mental retardation. Throughout his career, he has been directly involved in a variety of forms of justice and equity work, including work for the past 10 years with the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force. Victor has extensive experience as an educator and trainer in a variety of settings as well as with nonviolent strategies for community engagement.