YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Non-Violence Week started with a parade throughout the streets of downtown Youngstown.
Seventy-one groups were involved — some holding signs remembering loved ones, others simply asking for no more violence.
They want people to remember that words are powerful.
“We need to look at ourselves and watch the language that we use,” said Penny Wells of Mahoning Valley Sojourn To The Past. “Not just kids, but adults.”
Sunday was the first day of Ohio Non-Violence Week.
Youngstown has been celebrating the week for six years, but the state has only recognized it since 2013.
The Bureau of Justice statistics says 1.4 percent of blacks and 1.1 percent of whites were a victim of violent crimes in 2014. In total, there were almost three million violent crimes two years ago in America.
“The most important message in the world is non-violence as a way of life,” said Minnijean Brown-Trickey of Little Rock Nine.
Brown-Trickey sat in the parade’s lead-car, as she was one of the nine African-American students who persisted to attend an Arkansas high school after the schools were segregated. She said teaching people about non-violence is the best way to stop today’s cruelty.
“It is really about thought,” Brown-Trickey said. “It’s about analysis and it’s really about education.”
Non-Violence Week was started by high-schoolers who took part in a program called Sojourn to the Past, which takes students on a trip to places in the civil rights movement.
Jeff Steinberg is the founder of Sojurn to the Past. He said dialogue is a key to stop violence, which is why he wore a ‘black lives matter’ shirt today.
“We have to sit down together,” Steinberg said. “We have to be able to hear the other side.”
Members of the non-violence movement hope to spread their message with events throughout Youngstown all week long.