Speaker: How Can We Pay Tribute to King Legacy of Non-Violence as We Are Poised to Attack Syria?

By Melanie Arter | August 28, 2013 | 4:42pm EDT

Syrian protesters carry a placards showing dead Syrian children, during a protest in front of the Syrian embassy to condemn the alleged poison gas attack on the suburbs of Damascus (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

(CNSNews.com) - Kristin Stoneking, executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, who spoke at the event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, asked how we can pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of non-violence as the United States is “poised to attack Syria.”

“And so on this day, how can we pay tribute to their legacy of non-violence and peace to Dr. King’s refusal to see another as enemy as we are poised to attack Syria?” Stoneking asked.

Stoneking made her comments hours before President Barack Obama was scheduled to speak at the commemoration. Obama is considering military action against Syria – a move that is seen as unpopular among Americans, according to a Reuters poll last week. Only nine percent of those polled were supportive of such a decision.

If Obama goes through with attacking Syria, it will be “the first-ever military campaign of the modern era launched without popular support,” according to Fox News.

Stoneking first paid tribute to Bayard Rustin, the visionary organizer of the original March on Washington, who was also staff director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Rustin, whom Stoneking described as “an African-American gay man,” who was also a Quaker, co-founded the Congress of Racial Equality and organized the first Freedom Ride in 1947.

Rustin dedicated his life to non-violence “as a spiritual discipline,” Stoneking said.

Rustin “exemplifies that pacifism is anything but passive,” she said.

“He refused to accept war, by denying society’s expectation that he be straight. He refused to be at war with another nation by being imprisoned as a conscientious objector during World War II, and he refused to be at war with humanity by not accepting diminishment or division based on race,” she added.

Rustin and another FOR staffer, Rev. James Lawson, are credited with convincing King early on “that non-violence had to be the path to freedom.”

“And so on this day, how can we pay tribute to their legacy of non-violence and peace to Dr. King’s refusal to see another as enemy as we are poised to attack Syria?” Stoneking asked.

“Rustin and King showed us over and over that racism, militarism, and economic exploitation are inextricably linked. And so on behalf of all people of conscience, I call on our leaders to do all in our power to resist the siren song of militarism and embrace the way of Rustin, the way of King, the way of non-violence and peace,” she said.

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