Jun 032018
 

Evanston RoundTable, May 31, 2018

What may be an important initiative to reduce youth violence in Evanston is being launched this summer. The Kingian Nonviolence program, named after and inspired by the life, work and principles of Martin Luther King, will be held from June 19 through July 31. Some two dozen Evanston Township High School students will earn $8.50 an hour while learning and applying the principles of Dr. King’s life and career to community service projects. By the end of the program students will be certified to train others in nonviolence principles.

The brainchild of Kevin Brown, Manager of Community Services for the City’s Parks, Recreation & Community Services Department, the summer program is a partnership between the City of Evanston and the Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training.

 

Kevin Brown

Mr. Brown was first approached about Kingian Nonviolence in the summer of 2016 by Pam Smith and Gail Schechter, co-founders of the Addie Wyatt Center. Both women had trained at the University of Rhode Island’s International Nonviolence Summer Institute. One of Dr. King’s last wishes, which he proposed on the day he died, was to “institutionalize and internationalize” nonviolence training.

“I was intrigued with the program, because our team does a lot of work with conflict resolution,” Mr. Brown said. “Our job is to identify and work with at-risk young people, providing them with the proper resources and job assistance to help them become good citizens.”

A similar nonviolence program, introduced at North Lawndale College Prep in Chicago in 2010, is credited with reducing violence there by 90%.

Ms. Schechter and Ms. Smith are no strangers to ETHS. Ms. Smith grew up in Evanston and graduated from the school in 1976. In April 2016, after having presented their Kingian Nonviolence program at several Chicago high schools, they convened a meeting with the leadership board of ETHS’s Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR) to discuss violence, racism and class differences at the school.

“The students wanted to get involved,” said ETHS history and sociology teacher Corey Winchester, who is the staff coordinator for SOAR. “They decided to adopt Kingian Nonviolence as one of their projects.

“What appealed to me,” he said, “was that this seemed to be a new way of thinking about a lot of issues in our society—a lens in how to resolve conflicts and bring about restorative practices to deal with what otherwise might lead to violence.” Mr. Winchester defined “violence” in broad terms: “Not just fighting but hateful speech, writing and conduct that result in racism, classism, homophobia, people feeling unsafe, all sorts of things that can lead to anger and anxiety.”

Keith Robinson, Assistant Principal at ETHS, felt the same way. “We at the high school were interested in exploring how we can align with and apply Dr. King’s practices of peace in a proactive way.”

The Kingian approach is based on the famed civil rights leader’s six principles of nonviolence, which are: nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people; the Beloved Community is the framework of the future; attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil; accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal; avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence; and the universe is on the side of justice.

The summer program will be held at the Morton Civic Center, and include instruction from Mr. Brown’s staff, who have been certified as trainers in Kingian Nonviolence. Trainers also include Ms. Schechter and Ms. Smith as well as Addie Wyatt co-founders Sherri Bevel and Mary Lou Finley. As a young college graduate in the 1960s, Ms. Finley worked with Dr. King. Also scheduled to address the students are youth activists as well as civil rights leaders Timuel Black and Bernard Lafayette, who also worked with Dr. King. Dr. Lafayette is the founder of the University of Rhode Island Summer Institute and is the main author of the Kingian Nonviolence training curriculum.

Ms. Schechter, who helped put together the summer program, described the Addie Wyatt philosophy as “a process for adopting nonviolence as a way of life and addressing the underlying causes of unjust social conditions” through Dr. King’s “philosophy and methodology of nonviolent conflict reconciliation.”

According to the Addie Wyatt website, traineesstudy thelife, work and teachings of Dr. King and explore how this philosophy of nonviolence can be applied to confront injustice and build towards the Beloved Community… [A]ttendees become familiar with a viable, practical and historically effective map for how to create lasting social change through nonviolent direct action; and how to dig deep below conflicts to find true reconciliation.”

Students in the Evanston’s summer program will also participate in a number of field trips, including scheduled visits to the headquarters of Rainbow-PUSH and the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations, as well as New Friendship Baptist Church and North Lawndale, where it “helped change the culture of the school to promote a more peaceful, nonviolent community,” Ms. Schechter said. So-called Peace Warriors at North Lawndale, who are students trained in Kingian Nonviolence, helped establish a climate in which the school regularly celebrates violence-free periods with school-wide Peace Days and an annual year-end Peace Celebration, said Jude Laude, a District 202 Board member and guidance counselor at North Lawndale. In the 2017-18 academic year, the school was violence-free 158 out of 168 days. “Kingian Nonviolence has definitely helped transform the school,” he said.

Since the SOAR focus group in 2016, Ms. Bevel, Ms. Schechter and Ms. Smith have co-led joint two-day student workshops with students from ETHS, Wendell Phillips and Perspectives High School students in Chicago. The most recent workshop was held at ETHS in February and March of 2018, funded by a grant from the Evanston Community Foundation. At this point, Ms. Smith estimates, some 50 ETHS students have been trained in or exposed to Kingian principles, including senior Kai Gerberick. At the February-March workshop, he said the training helps “to convey and imbue” Dr. King’s principles. “It encourages an internal spiritual reckoning,” he said.

“Our goal is to address issues the students see as important, such as intolerance, racism, micro-aggression and the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Ms. Smith. “We want to train enough students to become effective ambassadors of peace in the school and, over the long term, have a ripple effect in the community.”

Students participating in the Evanston summer program have been selected from a list of high-school age youth who signed up for summer jobs through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, said Mr. Brown. Staffers have worked to put together a group of young people who can benefit the most from the program and “empower other students to peacefully resolve conflicts that occur in the school and in the community” through such techniques as peace circles, mediation and Dr. King’s six principles, he said.

“We’re excited by the prospect,” he added. “We see ETHS becoming a place of peace, which contributes to the goal of education: to help young people grow, develop and reach their full potential. That’s what Dr. King wanted for every human being.”

Jun 102013
 

Evanston RoundTable, June 6, 2013

Bill Logan’s life and career have been filled with achievements and honors. But at a low point, discouraged about his job and concerned about his future, he got some good advice from none other than the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1963 Dr. King stayed in Evanston while on a three-day visit to the area, speaking at local churches and synagogues. Mr. Logan, who was assigned to guard the civil rights leader, had been with the City’s Police Department for seven years, but was stymied: promotional opportunities seemed few and far between for African Americans.

“We were standing in front of the Orrington Hotel,” Mr. Logan reflected recently, “waiting for Dr. King’s car to take him back to the airport. He asked me about my future and when I mentioned my indecision, he told me, ‘You need to hold on to your dreams.’ He said I could be anything I wanted to be, but that I must be prepared. Then he asked me about my schooling, and I told him I had one year of college. He said, ‘Education will be the key to your future.’”

It was advice Mr. Logan took to heart. A Korean War veteran, Mr. Logan went back to college under the GI Bill, eventually getting his B.A. in public administration. Years later, armed with his degree, he became the first African American chief of police in Evanston.

It was one of many firsts for Mr. Logan, who played a breakthrough role for African Americans in the City where he was born and raised. At ETHS he was the first black football captain, first black winner of the Myerson award for football excellence and first black senior class vice president. Later he was the Evanston Police Department’s first black lieutenant, captain and deputy chief as well as chief of police.

He was also a co-founder of the Chessmen Club, which provides college scholarships for needy students and food baskets at Christmas time every year; the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), a nationwide organization for African American police officers, which today has more than 3,000 members; and FAAM, the City’s popular after-school basketball program, now in its 45th year.

While Dr. King’s advice was critical, it was his father, Bill Logan Sr., who was his first mentor. Young Bill played football, basketball and baseball at ETHS, and while his father encouraged him to play sports, he made it clear that his education came first.

After graduating ETHS in 1951, Mr. Logan tried out for the Chicago Cubs, then went to Western Illinois University on a football scholarship. With the Korean War looming, he left after a year to enroll in the Air Force, serving as a communications supervisor at the U.S. Air Force headquarters in Tokyo. “It was a good experience,” he said. “You learned command and control.”

Mr. Logan returned to Evanston in 1956 and, at his father’s encouragement, applied for a job with the Evanston Police Department. He worked there from 1957 to 1987.

When he assumed the role of chief, in 1984, his first priority was gang shootings, which were then claiming five or six lives a year. One of his first actions was to form the City’s first Gang Crimes unit. As a result of this and other measures, serious gang crimes dropped sharply.

As chief Mr. Logan developed a reputation for innovation. He instituted the first citizen research advisory committee, promoted the first female officer and convinced Richard M. Daley, State’s Attorney at the time, to assign a specially designated prosecutor to the City.

Perhaps his greatest legacy was introducing community policing, designed to bring police and the community closer together. He instituted foot and bike patrols and opened outpost stations and set up working groups to align the police with community and business organizations. He established volunteer organizations such as Mothers Against Gangs, and involved local clergy in law-enforcement efforts.

“Under Chief Logan, Evanston was one of the pioneers in community policing nationwide,” said Frank Kaminski, Park Ridge Chief of Police, who worked with Mr. Logan for many years at the Evanston Police Department. “That was huge.”

He also consulted with police departments around the country on hiring and promotional issues, and lectured nationwide on victim-assistance programs, which he had helped develop and implement in Evanston.

In 1987, after 30 years in the department, Mr. Logan retired to assume the job of Director of Safety and Security at ETHS, which he held until 2006. Once again, he launched many new and innovative programs, such as the school’s first crisis plan, hot line, annual in-service training and visitor sign-in system.

Throughout his career, he served as teacher and inspiration to many co-workers. “He is someone people look up to,” said Herb Stephens, with whom he worked at ETHS. “To this day I owe him everything I’ve done here.”

“He’s a great role model for so many of his peers and younger kids – as a police officer, athlete, family man and someone who has given back a lot to his community,” said Bob Reece, who coached FAAM basketball with him.

For all his efforts in law enforcement, education and the community, he has been extensively honored. In recognition of the 25th anniversary of NOBLE in 2001, he was cited by President George W. Bush. In 1991 he received the Those Who Excel award from the State Board of Education and in April 2013 the Life Service award from Family Focus.

Even in retirement he stays busy, connecting frequently with his children and grandchildren and serving on numerous boards such as the Evanston Community Foundation, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, and St. Francis Hospital Community Outreach and Safety Committee.

Asked how he has managed to accomplish so much, he characteristically credits others. “Both at the police department and the high school I was fortunate to have some wonderful people who worked with me. I was always grateful for their knowledge, ideas and support.”

He cites his father’s influence, and also the memorable time he spent with Dr. King early in his career. “Dr. King was very friendly and supportive. He talked and joked, but he was also very serious that we should make things better for the world.”

Bill Logan went on to do just that.