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The Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission traveled to the Non-Violence Economic Conference in Miami, Florida in August 2021. KASU reports details from the conference and how the Commission is working to implement the work of Dr. King in the state.

Arkansas Delegates Start Training From the Florida MLK Institute

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The topics provide a deep dive into nonviolence economics.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Junior Commission is working with the Florida MLK Institute for nonviolence in a partnership that was officially announced Tuesday morning. The Florida MLK Institute has established a nonviolence institute in New York. With the current partnership, Arkansas is on track to be the third state in the nation that would house an MLK institute. Sherwood Dubos is the Board Chairman of the Florida MLK Institute.

“Since we started the institute in 1993, we have traveled around the globe providing instruction, educational opportunities, and changing lives for the people that are participating in the program.”

John T. Jones, Junior is Executive Director of the Florida MLK Institute. He tells about the goal of the Florida MLK Institute for nonviolence.

“We want to institutionalize the learning and practicing of Dr. Martin Luther King. One of Dr. King’s dreams was globally institutionalize his institute.”

Arkansas sees numerous benefits of partnering with Florida. Those include learning how to engage with state and local leaders about how to address the obstacles that face many Arkansans, including poverty and disparities. I asked Dubos what he sees are the benefits of working with Arkansas.

“Partnerships, collaborations. The Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission and us could jointly make an impact by working together and reaching more people.”

One of the main goals of the conference in Florida is the delegates, volunteers, and staff of the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Junior Commission is to learn about economic development strategies that can address poverty in the state. I asked Dubos first and then Jones why the economic development component is so important.

“We recognize that social change and economics work together. If you don’t have economic going, there will not be any room for social change.”

Jones gives an example of what happened in Miami to make a positive change for young people living in the area.

“Many years ago, something we did to impact the criminal justice system. When we were looking at what was going on, we realized that over 70% of that youth that were incarcerated were people of color. We created what was called Teen Court and we sustained the Teen Court by embracing local law enforcement agencies, so that we were able to get three dollars off of every traffic ticket in Miami-Dade County. That program doesn’t come out of the general fund but it comes from a sustainable income.”

Jones is leading the training of the delegation from Arkansas through Wednesday. Future reports are coming. For KASU news, I’m Johnathan Reaves reporting from Miami.