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Velvet Mesquite - Illustration by George Malesky
Velvet Mesquite
A Natural Symbol of Sustainable Peace

Culture of Peace Alliance (COPA)
~ promoting peace, justice, and sustainability

Nonviolence Legacy Project

Promoting Nonviolent Youth Leadership for Tucson

2009 History of NVLP

A group of community organizations convened by the Culture of Peace Alliance brought civil rights pioneer Bernard LaFayette, Jr. to Tucson in February 2009 in honor of NAACP's 100th Anniversary. Dr. LaFayette was a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On the morning of his assassination, Dr. King told Bernard LaFayette that the civil rights movement must “institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence.” Dr. LaFayette has spent his life carrying out these instructions by conducting nonviolence trainings and setting up centers for peace and nonviolence across the US and around the world. He has worked with gang members in California, prison guards and inmates in Columbia, activists in Israel and Palestine, militia groups in Nigeria, and thousands of other individuals to introduce them to the power of nonviolence.

In 2006, Dr. LaFayette initiated a new movement to pass the legacy of nonviolence to the youth of today. His visit to Tucson was intended as the first part of a four-phase project to create a youth-led nonviolence training and direct action team for our community.



  • Tuesday, February 3, 2009 (7:00pm, Gallagher Theater, University of Arizona) “Passing the Torch” – As keynote speaker for Black History Month on campus, Dr. LaFayette addressed the significant role students play in social change movements, such as the Civil Rights Movement in the US and the struggle to end Apartheid in South Africa
  • Wednesday, February 4, 2009 (5:30 to 8:00 PM; Northwest Neighborhood Center) “A Century of Struggle: Still Pursuing the Dream” – A Community Presentation & Reception -- Dr. LaFayette addressed a diverse audience of community members with stories from the civil rights movement demonstrating how nonviolent strategies can be applied today to key human rights issues within Tucson and Southern Arizona
  • Thursday, February 5, 2009 (9:30 to 2:30 PM; University of Arizona Student Union Ballroom) “Nonviolence Leadership Training” – Dr. LaFayette presented a training session for 150 middle school, high school, and college age youth, inspiring them to become nonviolent leaders for their schools, homes, neighborhoods and the Tucson community.

PHASE TWO: April 4-5, 2009 Approximately 50 college and high school age youth, especially those who were part of the Feb. 5th workshop with Dr. LaFayette, participated in a two-day core nonviolence training (March 21-22 or April 4-5, 2009). The training team included three individuals from Tucson and So. California certified by Dr. LaFayette (and his Center for Peace and Nonviolence at the University of Rhode Island) to conduct this two-day Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence.

PHASE THREE: July 6-17, 2009–At least 10 youth who completed Phase Two travel to Rhode Island and participate in a two-week Nonviolence Summer Institute conducted annually by Dr. LaFayette and his colleagues at URI's Center for Peace and Nonviolence. This third step enables us to initiate a youth-led nonviolence training and direct action team in Tucson.

PHASE FOUR: The certified youth training team assumed primary leadership for the project, including deciding about a sustainable structure for the group and determining their initial nonviolence training and direct action strategies. Consultation and coordination provided by COPA and other co-sponsoring organizations.

*Nonviolence Legacy Project Co-Sponsors included: Culture of Peace Alliance (COPA); Derechos Humanos; Our Family Services; Tucson/So. AZ Black Chamber of Commerce; TUSD Mexican American/Raza Studies; University of Arizona's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership's Social Justice Programs; ASUA Women's Resource Center; Wingspan's Anti-Violence Programs.