Brown and Chestnut speak of peace

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Local attorney J.L. Chestnut Jr. didn’t hold back any punches during his speech to Selma High School students Monday, telling them that the community was tired of all the crimes being committed by young teens.

Chestnut and community activist Barbara Brown spoke to students as part of a two-day program designed to bring peace and promote nonviolence to today’s youth, a message that was central to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Chestnut said he spent the past 40 years as an attorney watching young people &uot;throw away their lives&uot; on drugs, gangs and rivalry.

The attorney said he wishes he could take students on a tour of prisons and show them how scary those places really are.

He added that students would be surprised to see how many prisoners are not much older than them.

Chestnut spoke of a time when he attended a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a Marion church when agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation suddenly burst in.

When it was Brown’s turn to speak, she described how the deaths of her two sons made her realize younger generations have forgotten or ignore King’s nonviolent philosophy.

Brown called on the students to take an oath to practice nonviolence and become leaders in their school and community.

She also asked for volunteers to become &uot;peacemakers&uot; and participate in an after-school training program to learn how to teach others about King’s nonviolent philosophy.

Brown and Chestnut are expected to host a similar program at Selma Middle C.H.A.T. Academy today.