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Youth violence in Kansas City needs knockout influence of Muhammad Ali

What an interesting piece from the Kansas City Star. I'm grateful to see organizations like this getting attention and discussions like these being had. If you live in the Kansas City area, it sure looks like the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice would be a great ally--especially since their associate director is a supporter of the Department of Peace (see the second to last paragraph).

Youth violence in Kansas City needs knockout influence of Muhammad Ali

By Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist

LOUISVILLE -- The community discussion today on youth violence in Kansas City missed out on employing The Greatest in their strategy. Next time organizers should get Muhammad Ali and people with his peace institute involved in the discussion. I learned today that people at the institute have a lot of new strategies to offer.

The Trotter Group of black columnists in a discussion on violence Monday heard from Stacy Bailey-Ndiaye, associate director of the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice. She said the institute employs the former heavy weight boxing champion's character, convictions and courage to help sway people toward peace.

The institute also builds its nonviolence program on six core values. They are respect, dedication, conviction, confidence, spirituality and giving. Ali embodied those traits in resisting the draft during the Vietnam War, being stripped of his boxing title, and pursuing and winning a Supreme Court case proving he took the right stand. Then despite the odds, Ali won back his boxing title.

He was a thinking man in the ring, in the community and in public settings. The institute is promoting among young people and communities that same holistic, systematic approach to countering violence.

The institute works with communities worldwide, reaching out to many groups to forge a lasting environment of nonviolence. "What we're trying to do is have a real constructive relationship with organizations," Bailey-Ndiaya said.

Mordean Taylor-Archer, vice provost for diversity and international affairs at the University of Louisville, said the spirit of wanting to make a change has to be present for change to occur. Structural inequities have to be addressed and dismantled for peace to follow. Taylor-Archer, who appeared on the Trotter panel with Bailey-Ndiaya, said people must be revolutionary in developing solutions to ages-old problems when nothing else works.

Members of the Trotter Group write for newspapers nationwide in major cities that have youth and community violence epidemics just as Kansas City does.

"The spirit of wanting to make the change and be involved in the change is critical," Taylor-Archer said.

Using posters, Bailey-Ndiaye said violence shows up in six forms: domestic violence, community violence, economic violence, political violence, environmental violence and hate violence. Some quotes attached to the posters were: "Hate makes life hell," "A planet can only take so much abuse before she hits back," "Who says we have to shut up and take it?" "Sure guns make people safer, assuming there's safety in being dead," "Must the world evolve to survival of the richest" and "When weapons are used to negotiate, it blows up in everyone's face."

Communities and individuals must address and overcome each form of violence, said Bailey-Ndiaye, who strongly supports the creation of a Cabinet department of peace in the Obama administration.

But the work toward peace isn't for the weak-willed, faint-hearted or those prone to half-stepping. "If you want to affect change, you've got to deal with the complexity of all of it," she said.

Submitted by Lewis Diuguid on April 19, 2010 - 5:04pm.

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Thank you for sharing this article! It's wonderful to see editorial columnists offering their support for reducing youth violence. I hope that the Trotter Group takes advantage of this opportunity to connect with Muhammad Ali.


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