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Monday, January 16, 2012

Non-violent social activism

 Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day in the US. Dr. King was a great man who is one of my personal heroes. For those of you who don't know who he was, Dr. King was an African American Baptist preacher who became one of the most famous men in America in the 1950s and 1960s. He was famous for standing up for the rights of minorities and the poor using non-violent activism. He help organize the Montgomery bus boycott, which lead to the desegregation of the bus system in Montgomery Alabama in the late 1950s. He helped to lead many peaceful protest marches and demonstrations against racism and segregation in the 1960s, including the March on Washington where he gave the famous "I Have a Dream" speech. He was the victim of violence on multiple occasions, including having his home firebombed by white supremacists. Even though people used violence against him, he never sought revenge. He taught others to turn the other cheek and practiced what he preached. Sadly, this peaceful man was murdered for his beliefs in April 1968. He was taken from us too soon, but his spirit and his message will always live on.

In honor of Dr. King, I present some tips on ways that you can be a non-violent advocate for people and animals in you everyday life.

1.Speak up. You can do this in several ways. Read PETA's action alerts, sign petitions, and call or write your state or federal representatives and urge them to oppose bills that hurt animals and support those that help them. Another great way to speak up is via Facebook and Twitter. Post links to animal rights websites and articles, notify your friends about animals that are available for adoption, or share yummy vegan recipes.

2. Go mobile! You can spread the message of veganism wherever you go by wearing animal rights message shirts, buttons, and bumper stickers. As I have said before, seeing you wearing these things often makes people curious, and that can lead to great teaching moments. Another good thing to do is keep a few vegan info leaflets (on recycled paper if possible) with you so you can give them to people who are interested in learning more.

3. Tabling. See if you can get permission to set up an information table at your local school, business, library, store, etc. You can have poster boards with pictures and info, a video playing, leaflets, coupons for veggie burgers, and more. If possible, provide samples of vegan food so people can see for themselves that we eat more than salad.

For more tips, see this great article from Vegan Outreach. The article goes in depth about how to starting tabling and leaf letting.

Remember Dr. King's message and keep standing up for the animals.

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