2018 has been an incredible year – thank you for all your support!
2018 has been an incredible year – thank you for all your support!
“No one can win the war individually, It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy”
– Glory from the Motion Picture Selma
Frederick D. Reese is a Legend. And although the acts throughout his life were incredibly courageous, his legacy of love for the next generation is what made him legendary to us.
The first conversation we had with Dr. Reese was in the midst of a battle. The forces of racism and oppression had come knocking at our door trying to stop a youth movement to bring unity to Selma. It seemed so intense at the time. With people calling the local government and threatening to pull funding from our school if we didn’t stop.
But Dr. Reese had withstood many battles of his own. From being a part of the Courageous Eight who compelled Dr. King to come to Selma, to leading his fellow teachers time and time again to the steps of the Dallas County Courthouse. Yet, here he was talking to us because he believed wholeheartedly that we mattered. And that a march led by youth, no matter how it seemed to others, was worth marching again.
Months before, we had met with government officials to plan a unity dance with youth from all over Selma on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the infamous Bloody Sunday occurred in 1965. As the date came closer, the city government was under a lot of pressure to pull support. When they told us we could no longer host the dance because “you can always do the dance somewhere else”, it ignited a fire in everyone to protest the decision and march on the day we had planned to dance.
But we needed guidance. And when we asked to meet with Dr. Reese, he gave us his full support. Not because we had done everything right, but because he believed our cause was right. Time and time again, he would invite us to teach the dance to kids at his church or talk to his members about the project. It was incredible to be walking in step with one of Selma’s greatest heroes, but also be so understood and welcomed.
Dr. Reese, thank you for standing with us. For never turning a blind eye to injustice, no matter if that injustice took away the right to vote or the right to dance. You lived a legacy of love and we pray that we can carry that legacy forward for more generations.
Trauma- a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event.
This word has become more real and relevant to me as we get to experience the incredible stories of some amazing individuals. Starting this month, we get to spend time with and teach middle and high school refugee students in Clarkston once a week. The students we teach represent many walks of life from Ghana, Kenya, Korea, Dubai, Sudan, Uganda, Congo and Zambia just to name a few. As we listen to their stories, the reality of their traumatic experiences come to life in living color. The persecution and violence they faced have given me a different perspective in how I view the issues here in the USA that we can address as citizens and New Way trainers.
Their stories also continue to validate and reassure me of the work that we do and how much it’s needed. Although the students’ circumstances may leave lasting psychological scars (and physical scars for some), you can feel hope. As we go through activities together, you feel hope arise through smiles and laughter, sometimes even tears. We feel how love touches the human soul and reminds each person of their gifts and value on this earth.
These weekly workshops have become one of the most powerful hours of my week as I see love conquer hate and heal brokenness in many. I see those that would not talk laughing uncontrollably with their peers. I see those that could not speak English well, speak the language of love that we all understand.
Although my natural experience are not anywhere close to being the same as the students, I am learning that any level or degree of trauma must be addressed with patience, love and understanding. I walk away weekly having learned more than I could ever teach. There is truly a New Way of dealing with the trauma in our lives. We must learn to go through the struggle together because we come out closer and stronger in unity on the other side. We are human! We are love. We are family.
“They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her.” -Susan Bro
These are the words of the mother of Heather Heyer of Charlottesville Virginia. Heather, a nonviolent activist, gave her life during a protest in Virginia as she was struck by hate. Mrs. Susan Bro said; “You just magnified her.” Yes! This is the message we must remember–to magnify love.
Demonstrators gathered by the thousands on the UVA campus, illuminated by candlelight. Then they began to sing songs like: “We Shall Overcome”; “This Little Light of Mine”; “Lean On Me”; “This Land Is Your Land”; and a reprise of “Amazing Grace.” One student read the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. Their voices of unity were magnified in unison as they lifted their voices together in song.
I believe that singing is one of the most powerful ways of connecting people together. It is a display of individuals, lifting their voices in their own tone, pitch and style but collectively bringing a harmonious sound. Using singing to stay encouraged was also common during the civil rights movement of the 60’s. When we sing together in love, the voice of love and unity is much more magnified than the voices of hate and division.
In times like we are in now, it is helpful to draw inspiration from history and examples of historical figures. Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr (Doc) was a part of the nonviolent movement in Selma, Alabama (my hometown) in the 60’s. Doc, who trained me in nonviolence, would share with me how nonviolent protesters used music and singing to avoid the hate and violence that was on the outside from getting on the inside. Wow! Music and singing to find inspiration and stay encouraged. I asked him how people could possibly find the strength to sing when things were so bad? He so graciously said, “That was the point of singing. People were losing strength and getting weak internally to all the violence that was around. We would sing to lift our spirits and regain strength to keep going without hitting back with violence. Instead, we hit back with love.” Love was the driving force behind the songs they sang.
Just like those that gathered at the vigil on UVA campus and those of the civil rights movement of the 60’s used music to stay encouraged and inspired, so must we.
I am excited to share with you a playlist of songs that lift my spirits and help me see the beauty around me — even in the midst of darkness. I was inspired to share these songs because of Heather Heyer’s fight, Susan Bro’s words of encouragement and all that gathered at the vigil on UVA campus. Please lift your voice with me. I hope and pray these songs encourage and inspire you as they do me. Charlottesville, WE WILL SING!
Here is New Way’s #StickwithLove Spotify playlist – songs of OUR movement!
That was the top value that students at the International Student Center chose during their New Way training in Spring 2017. The students had spent time individually choosing from a list of 40 different values a person could have, ranging anywhere from “love” and “spirituality” to “hard work” and “ambition”. When the results were compiled at the end it was nearly unanimous that “family” was the top value among the group. Suddenly, all the things that made us different didn’t seem to matter any more.
What is the Revolution Summit?
The New Way Revolution Summit is open to all—students, professionals, community leaders, and people seeking the tools and knowledge to apply nonviolence as a lifestyle and as a change-generating tactic in a variety of settings.
The Summit will focus specifically on equipping college students, professionals, and community leaders to effectively incorporate real-world peacemaking and conflict reconciliation strategies in support of diversity, inclusion, and meaningful coexistence.
Attendees will get immediate practice applying principles learned in the training room as they engage in direct action and community service opportunities in the Atlanta area. With support from New Way trainers and staff, participants will create personal action plans to take home and will benefit from ongoing support throughout the year.
What is the cost and what does cover?
The cost of the Summit is $289. It covers the training, material, continental breakfast, lunch, and snacks each day. It does not cover cost of housing or transportation to and from Atlanta. Participants will be sent an invoice prior to the Summit.
Where do I register?
Register for the Summit HERE. Please note on the form if you’re interested in applying for a scholarship. We will send that application separately.
If you have any questions, contact Ronald Smith (845-671-1353 or email@example.com)
Cynthia is a volunteer with Something New whose heart to serve is driven by her love for teaching. In this time of travel bans and uncertainty, Cynthia roles out her classroom’s welcome mat everyday hoping to provide a safe place for her students. She contributed this Blog.
I have hope. Despite the heart-wrenching, divisive talk happening every day across our country, I have to believe we are so much better. Just step into my classroom and you’ll see why.
Love may be in the air for some right now, but there sure is a lot of other stuff in the air along with it!
On this day that the calendar celebrates love, we wanted to share something our New Way trainers have been working on about how to walk in the kind of love that transforms us and powers world-changing movements. It’s deeper than (and outlasts) a gift of chocolate and flowers. This kind of love will offer a kind word and a soft heart toward someone who has hurt or misjudged you. It will seek to understand a person whose views make you want to hide them from your Facebook feed. It’s the kind of love and fire Dr. King said no fire hose could put out. This kind of love does what nothing else does: it frees you to be the best you and gives us all a chance at achieving healing and reconciliation.
Our New Way trainers are working on a book with stories about their own daily journeys to walk this kind of love out. It includes the ways they’ve fallen on their faces as well as the ways they’ve learned to rise above their own internal struggles and contradictions to walk out the good things they believe in.
Each story provides an opportunity for you, the reader, to reflect on one of King’s nonviolence principles as well as a challenge about how to implement that principle into your own life. Right now. Today.
The full book will be available in April, but we want to give you a taste now because we really do believe that what the world needs right now is love, sweet love.
Download your free sample of our upcoming book HERE.
Barak Gibson is a freedom fighter.
Don’t let his kind smile and gentle demeanor fool you into thinking he is an ordinary man. He is living proof that people can be transformed. Barak Gibson was born in Dallas Texas and grew up going to church every Sunday.
The conservative culture began to mold and shape his life and outlook on the world. Prejudice, bias, oppression, hate and fear were all around. Barak learned that one way to feel better about yourself was to look down on others. He hated that he was made fun of because he was chubby. He hated that he was so poor that some days there was no food in the family cupboard. Sadly, he even started to hate people. He started to despise people of different skin tones, religions, economic status and sexual orientation. His anger and bitterness especially came out at the gay community; he ridiculed and threatened those around him simply because they were different. There was a cancer growing in him, and it was taking over.
Barak learned to play the game. On the outside, he appeared to be successful and many thought he had accomplished the American Dream. He started a successful business that grew into a franchise system, he was a leader in the community and church, and was married to his beautiful partner Cynthia. However, internally Barak was a disaster. Hatred, hopelessness, hurt and hardness filled his heart.
In 2005, Barak had a spiritual awakening and through this experience, he gained freedom from the demons that were raging inside. And once Barak was enlightened to just how bound he had been, and he tasted freedom, he desired that all people should be free.
In 2007, Barak and Cynthia moved to Selma, Alabama. Selma is one of the most racially and economically segregated cities in America and for 7 years, they brought love and hope to the community. Selma authenticated Barak in the principles and ways of nonviolence he never dreamed possible.
Influenced by the nonviolent strategy of Martin Luther King, Barak started teaching nonviolence to college students who came to Selma on Spring Break. New Way’s message is to stick with love. Barak’s mission is to expose the deeper issues that plague our world and recruit fighters for a different kind of army…an army of love. The guy who was once filled with so much hate, brokenness and disdain, is now spreading a message of equality, healing and reconciliation. Now, that is a freedom fighter!
TO SCHEDULE A SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT WITH BARAK OR ANOTHER SOMETHING NEW SPEAKER, PLEASE CONTACT BARAK@SOMETHINGNEW.ORG OR CLICK HERE TO REQUEST MORE INFORMATION.