Self-Transformation through Reflection and Action
Nonviolence is not the absence of war. It is the presence of peace with justice. The Freedom Center facilitates civic engagement in acts for peace, community solidarity, a stronger democracy and advocating for and practicing activity that teaches respect for and caring of our home, planet earth. The curriculum, entitled Democracy Education, develops cultural power through reflection and action. Democracy Education prepares individuals and groups to create meaning. Learning takes place in conjunction with relevance and critical problem solving. The curriculum promotes common-good values of interdependence, other-interestedness, mutuality and the global pursuit of ecological sustainability.
Nonviolence Education and Classes - The Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center provides Democracy Education classes and presentations annually to 3,200 students in middle schools and high schools of Oakland Unified, Emery Unified, Castro Valley, Alameda, San Leandro and Berkeley School Districts. Students attend Saturday programming throughout the school year held at Laney and Merritt Colleges. Programming continues during all school breaks: Thanksgiving; Winter; Spring and Summer which includes full-day activities, overnights, cultural leadership exchanges and travel. On-going campaigns and special events, such as those featured on the home page of our website, provide opportunities for youth to speak in public venues, organize, advocate and facilitate classes and presentations.
The Freedom Center addresses the crisis in public education through transformative relationships with administrators and teachers in public, charter and private schools. Freedom Center programs enhance the culture of learning inside the school. Our programs engage students as active participants in the development of their own capacity to learn how to learn, develop self-control and to embrace their responsibility to lead and serve. These characteristics enhance academic success, decrease disruptive behavior and create hope and optimism for success.
Parent engagement is a central aspect of programming at the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center. All students who participate in our Saturday classes receive home visits. Parents are invited to join classes, volunteer and attend events where their sons and daughters are speaking or organizing in the community.
Democracy Education features classes in: Personal Transformation through Social Participation; Discover Yourself; Build up Your Cultural Power; Gratitude; Be Great through Service; Vision Maker; The Power of Nonviolence; and Facing Your Fears. Classes utilize the nonviolence theory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They incorporate daily reflection practices and creative expression, especially poetry and song.
Teacher and organizer trainings in Democracy Education include: Power for Personal Transformation through Social Participation and Coaching Peace with Justice. Nonviolence classes and Democracy Education harmonize an individual’s values and aspirations with the needs of the community.
Community Advocacy- The Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center organizes youth for direct action and participation in advocating for community unity and progress. Current programming includes: Stop the Foreclosure Campaign, a collaboration with the City of Oakland, and Just Cause; the “All of Us Around the table…Together” community policing initiative; and Stop the Railroad from Schools into Prison, a collaboration between the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center and the Institute for Community Leadership, developing inner-realm cultural power and academic engagement through reflection and meaningful social action.
Social Justice and Democracy- The Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom center organizes, educates and prepares individuals for sustained work dedicated to social justice and a stronger democracy. Freedom Center youth have carried out a “Get Out The Vote” and “Shoulder The Vote” campaigns in several cities in the East Bay. Freedom Center students organized and hosted speakers from other states to speak about the anti-immigration legislation and the people’s response. Freedom Center youth have also participated in the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage in Alabama organized by Congressman John Lewis. Studying and working for social justice and a stronger democracy generates what Dr. King calls, “other-interestedness.” Students integrate into something larger than the self. In doing so they become leaders.
Environmental Education and Greening Consciousness – Freedom Center students have study the causes of childhood onset obesity and diabetes. They make presentations to adults and youth about eating nutritious food and increasing physical activity. Their presentations call for eliminating fast food, and limiting television and internet time. Freedom Center students help harvest gardens and distribute fresh, organic vegetables to food banks and families.
Personal Change- The Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center, following the principles of Dr. King, focuses on personal change through participation in social transformation. When one does this, the need for personal change becomes self-evident and individuals begin to excel in academics and citizenship. Students reduced television time, increased reading time, kept a journal, and wrote poems and speeches throughout the year.