On the International Day of Non-Violence, Bridges of Peace and Hope celebrates icons of peace. May we learn from their example how to be strong, sensible advocates for justice.
Malala Yousafzai is a Women’s Education Activist and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. When Malala was 15, she was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school. This attempt to silence her powerful voice made her speak even louder about female inequality and an unjust education system in Pakistan. Malala continues to fight for women’s rights and tours the world promoting equality in education on an international stage.
Desmond Tutu is a South African theologian and human rights advocate. Tutu was a leading voice in the anti-apartheid movement that desegregated South Africa. His lifelong objective to build “a democratic and just society without racial divisions” lead him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. He was the first black Bishop of Johannesburg and the first black Archbishop of Cape Town, paving the way for a more inclusive, reflective clergy in South Africa. In 2011, Archbishop Tutu nominated Malala Yousafzai for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
Mildred Norman, better known as the Peace Pilgrim, walked across the United States for 28 years speaking and educating Americans about pacifism. She began her pilgrimage in 1953, vowing to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace.” By 1964, she has walked 25,000 miles spreading peace and continued until her death in 1981.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is the face of nonviolent activism. A key figure in the American Civil Rights Movement, MLK is pictured here in Selma, Alabama marching in peaceful protest of voting rights restrictions. King practiced and preached civil disobedience, the act of defying unjust laws in attempt to change them. After his assassination in 1968, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Each of these icons of peace and non-violence remind us that a single person with a powerful message has the ability to change the course of history while improving the world. Peace is the way!