On the third day of rioting sparked by the footage of Rodney King’s now historic beating, the man at the center of the violence--the police brutality caught on tape, and the race riots that followed from it--emerged from his house for the first time. It wasn’t commentary he had to offer but rather a question:
"People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?"
Twenty-two years later, the man who pushed the nation to ask what The Washington Post calls “that simple and profound question” has passed away.
It’s the perfect moment to highlight the work of programs King would’ve stood behind. These programs’ founders, employees, current students and alumns would answer King’s question with a resounding “Yes.” Why? Because they’re making it happen every day.
5 Outstanding Programs Getting Us All to Get Along
1. Dance 4 Peace
Social change through the art of movement. That's the short description of what this nonprofit has accomplished with over 5,075 youth across four continents. To promote "peace and tolerance," skills like active listening and anger management are fostered through movement, resulting in what founder Sara Potler describes as a culture "in which students could learn basic social and emotional competencies for peace." Recently named a Mattel Prize for Play winner in the Ashoka Changemakers' Activating Empathy competition, Dance 4 Peace emphatically shows us that one can be a 'mover and a shaker' for change.
2. Peace First
Addressing the issue of youth violence in education, PeaceFirst teaches children (ages 4 and up) how to be agents of peace "in the classroom, the hallways, the lunchroom, the schoolyard, at home and in the neighborhood." By infusing educational curriculum with the principles and skills of peacemaking, children are taught not merely to become a part of the solution. They are taught how to grow into the solution, itself. "When peacemaking is part of the fabric of every child's education, children in every community will have the skills to [...] build a world worthy of their children."
3. Changing Worlds
Literacy and cultural connections are the focus of this nonprofit, one that seeks to affirm identity, improve cross-cultural understanding, and enhance student learning. How? Armed with conviction in the ability to affect social change through teachers, young people, and storytelling, this Judges' Award winner in the Changemakers' Activating Empathy competition has been developing oral history, writing, and art programs since 1996.
Community Action towards a Safer Environment (CASE) draws upon a diverse volunteer presence to break cycles of violence within communies. Through the utilization of counseling, awareness, community development, and networking techniques, this organization employs a mixture of afterschool programs, support groups, and youth-in-action programs to "creat[e] a positive cycle of healthy individuals, families, and community."
5. Interfaith Youth Core
"What if people of all faiths and traditions worked together to promote the common good for all?" asks the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core. By cultivating discussions about faith from a variety of religious perspectives, this organization is helping people develop "respect, comfort, and appreciation for one another and their traditions" through their interfaith youth movement centered on the value shared by all faiths: service to others.
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