May 29, 1982

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Coretta Scott King says she is very concerned about high unemployment rates, but feels a new program she is starting across the nation will offer more hope and violence.

Mrs. King is president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for nonviolent Social Change, named after her late husband who preached non-violent protest in the ‘60s.

She has initiated a nationwide training program she said is designed to avert violence and give people of all ages hope and belief in themselves.

Dorothy Cotton, a prominent civil rights leader who preached nonviolence and worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., passed away on June 10 at the age of 88. In 1982, the AFRO wrote about the combined efforts of Cotton and Coretta Scott King to reduce violence throughout the United States.

“We’re trying to deal with the need that we saw which is the need to provide community trainers in resolving community conflicts,” said Dorothy Cotton, a center vice president and one of the trainers.

Mrs. Cotton and Mrs. King discussed their training sessions at a news conference and in a telephone interview.

Mrs. Cotton said four day conferences have been held in Oakland, CA, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Washington. She said other training sessions are scheduled for New York City and Atlanta.

Between 35 and 40 people attend the Washington training sessions led by Mrs. Cotton and Mrs. King; Bernard Lafayette of Tuskegee, AL, who worked with King in the ‘60s, and the Rev. Leslie Carter, who organized the Work For Peace Academy.

The training sessions include lectures, films, discussion and role playing.

“The idea is to avert violence and tension and create love of community rather than frustration and ineffective confrontation,” Mrs. Cotton said.

Mrs. King said the program was in the planning stages “for a couple of years” and involves “some 22 cities,” with training centers located in seven or eight cities where the “potential for conflict” exists.

“We’re hoping that we don’t have disruption on a wide scale,” Mrs. King said. “But if things tend to be moving in that direction, we hope that people in the communities and the channels of communication will be open.”

Mrs. King was asked if her concern was intensified by the recent unemployment figures showing the highest unemployment rate in 40 years.

“Yes, I am. It certainly does. One wonders what will happen when the people have no jobs, have no place to turn, how they’ll deal with this kind of desperation and frustration,” she said.

Mrs. King said it is the “responsibility of every person in the community to be concerned, to do problem-solving, especially in the areas where there are resources, in the private sector.”

“I’m very concerned about the high unemployment,” Mrs. King said. “When young people are idle, they turn to destructive ways to use their time. What we’re doing is trying to go help people get involved in the community such as registering people to vote…to help people understand it is important that they get involved.”

Mrs. King also said there “has been apathy” in the country. “I think some of it has to do with the fact that people soon forget that you can’t stop, you have to continue to earn your rights” and that is one of the things her training sessions try to accomplish, she said.

“Essentially, we’re teaching them an understanding of politics, how you may change public policies, your responsibility to do that,” Mrs. King said. “We have to put people in  office who are concerned about people.”

Transcribed by Matthew Ritchie