Last Friday, we surpassed 500 men who have gone through a Kingian Nonviolence workshop in Soledad State Prison!!! It was an inspiring milestone, especially since the majority of those men went through a workshop facilitated by their peers.
The men who were present were treated with a special surprise, in the form of a visit and presentation from Carmen Perez, an old friend, advocate of Kingian Nonviolence, executive director of the Gathering for Justice and national co-chair of the Women’s March. After a morning workshop filled with incredible stories, Carmen’s speech left the 50 men in awe.
I also want to share an incredibly inspiring story shared to us by one of the 500 men we’ve worked with at Soledad, one of our inside facilitators, Chris Diep.
“In October of 2000, four days after my birthday, my best friend whom I had known since I was 5 was murdered. I am currently incarcerated for a retaliation murder.
In 2013, I was transferred to Soledad. When I got here, I found out that the person who actually murdered my friend was here
For the first several weeks, I was completely stressed out. I was feeling angry, frustrated, worried and conflicted. I wanted to take revenge, and felt that if I didn’t do something, my peers would look down on me. At the same time, if I did take revenge, I knew it would affect my family.
For a few years, I avoided him at all costs. I didn’t do anything, but inside I was filled with anger and hatred. But I wanted a chance to eventually go home, so I just kept my distance.
When I started to learn about Kingian Nonviolence, I realized how that anger was affecting me, and how avoiding him was only creating a negative peace. Kingian Nonviolence helped me accept my friend’s death, and move towards forgiving the person who took his life. I learned that holding onto anger was an act of violence I was doing to myself, and the importance of reconciliation.
I reached out to him. Now, I am able to sit and talk to him, about our purpose in life, about the type of men we want to be when we go home. He was actually in the room today as I was facilitating.”
Peace requires reconciliation on a personal level like Chris embodies, and it requires communities to resist violence and injustice, like the participants in our workshops last weekend in Oakland and this coming weekend in Oxnard.
Please consider supporting our work, supporting Chris and the rest of our relatives on the inside, and communities throughout California that we are working to empower.
I look forward to sharing more exciting updates later this week.