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Peace Museum welcomes families of Gandhi, King to Dayton for nonviolence exhibit

The Dayton International Peace Museum kicks off an initiative called “A Season for Nonviolence” this weekend with the help of Tushar Arun Gandhi and Rev. Joel L. King Jr., two individuals whose families have built lasting legacies through peaceful revolution.

Tushar Gandhi is an Indian author, activist, social worker and great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. He and Rev. Joel King Jr. — minister, activist and cousin of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — are in Dayton this weekend to promote the initiative.

Gandhi and King will attend an kickoff event for the initiative on Saturday, along with Gregory Foster, a retired social worker and cousin to Coretta Scott King, and Brian Polkinghorn, executive director of the Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution at Salisbury University in Maryland, who worked closely with Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma.

“A Season For Nonviolence” encompasses the 64 calendar days between the dates of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination (Jan. 30) and that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (April 4), with the purpose of promoting the principles of nonviolence as a way to heal, transform, and empower the lives of individuals and communities, according to organizers.

“It’s important to bring people together and help them shine in a time that’s really difficult politically and socially, with wars going on and people hungry for something good,” said Alice Young-Basora, director of education for Dayton’s International Peace Museum. “This is our first year, but we want to continue to build and keep the momentum going for years to come.”

A Season For Nonviolence is not a new initiative, however, having been created in 1998 by Dr. Arun Gandhi and his wife, Sunanda, as a way to commemorate the intervening period between the death of two individuals whose vision for peace was shared worldwide.

“What we require today is a kind of reaffirmation of the faith in the ideals of nonviolence and peace,” Tushar said Friday. “Just commemorating something is not going to make a spectacular change, but I do believe that even small changes are essential in today’s times when it seems so hopeless.”

In interviews with the newspaper, Tushar, King, and Foster shared their hopes for the Season For Nonviolence and the impact they believe it can have.

“Many times, we have this notion about peace and nonviolence just being an absence of conflict, but it’s not really just that,” Tushar said. “It is also the kind of violence that we commit because of our accepted habits and lifestyle.”

This change toward nonviolence must start from the individual level, the men shared, and can start within one’s own home and family.

“Communication (is important),” Foster said, highlighting the importance of teaching the skill of communicating effectively from an early age. “When your kids come home, don’t just ask how their day was, ask what they did, what they learned; talk to your kids. I think it starts there.”

Joel King said it’s important not to simply commemorate the words of his cousin and Mahatma Gandhi, but to take action.

“When we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday, we can’t just say, ‘This weekend, we’ll take you off the shelf and look at you, then put you back on the shelf until next year’ — when what he told us is to make a difference,” King said. “Everybody can do something to make a difference in their own community and in their own homes; you don’t have to wait until you’re leading a march.”

Special events

** The International Peace Museum will host an opening reception for “A Season for Nonviolence” from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Museum, 10 N. Ludlow St. Tickets are $50.

** On Tuesday, there will be a free-to-the public screening of the 2013 film “Who Killed Gandhi” at the Plaza Theatre at 33 S. Main St. in downtown Miamisburg.

A red carpet opens at 6 p.m., followed by the movie from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. A question-and-answer session is set for 8:30 to 9 p.m. A ticket is required and donations are encouraged. Tickets may be picked up by stopping by the theater or calling the box office at 937-530-8013 between 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

The event takes place on the anniversary of Gandhi’s 1948 assassination. In attendance will be film’s director, Anand Ramayya, and Gandhi’s great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, who is in the midst of a week-and-a-half visit to the region.

When other theater venues fell through for the event, the all-volunteer Plaza Theatre staff took two days to arrange for the screening to go on, according to Chris Sedlak, executive director of the Plaza Theatre Association.

“We thought it important to offer the theater as a location for this event because we’re a community that wants to encourage such a positive event,” Sedlak said. “The organizers came to us with an opportunity to spread the importance of what the Dayton area means to peace.”

SOURCE: Dayton Daily News