Art and Peace

One of the many exciting classes offered by Colorado College is called the Foundations of Nonviolence, taught by Evan Weissman as well as many extraordinary speakers. It began as a gentle introduction, an explanation to what violence and nonviolence both were, and their effects. By the end of the first day Evan had almost the whole class at an understanding of the importance of the information. The readings provide us with a plethora of support for ideas that we as students may have already had but could not articulate as well as deepening our understanding of the issues. It is also provided in a more academic format with statistics and studies than we as students may not have seen elsewhere.

Classes are primarily discussion based, centered around the various speakers, movies, and books that we read for class. Assignments, are also very open. There is only one a week in the form of a reflection that can be done through art or through a short essay. It is an absolutely freeing experience, letting students approach it in any way that they would like. So far the two speakers that we have had are Dr. Vincent Harding and Jamie Laurie from the Flobots. Dr. Vincent Harding was a friend of Martin Luther King as well as the writer of Martin Luther King’s infamous Vietnam Speech. While it is a speech that is well accepted today, at the time it spiraled MLK into controversy.

The most influential thing about the presentation by Dr. Vincent Harding, was that there was no lecture. The presentation was in the form of modeling his interactions with us and his responses to our questions and comments. He began with little introduction, but instead asked who we were, and then proceeded to give statements which he wished us to respond to. Dr. Vincent Harding had such great composure and answered all questions with a great touch of humor. I left the class feeling such a great sense of peace.

In today’s class, we opened with a discussion and then moved to a presentation by our assistant teacher, Mary. She sang songs and taught us how music could be used in activism. She used parodies as an easy way to attract other people to the songs. Halfway through the class, rapper and activist, Jamie Laurie came in to talk to us. He is from the band Flobots, most know for their hit “Handlebars.” His presentation contrasted to the others, in his explanation of his own path to nonviolence. He used questions, to make us think, and shared some of his raps. He is and has been an activist since college and believes that music is important for effective protest. It is unifying, calming and creates a sense of greater purpose.

Next week we are going to Baca. It will be a spiritual journey, and I can’t wait!

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