Valerie Kaur

Courtesy of Kaur's Website

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, the University’s Center for Peace and Justice hosted its annual keynote address in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his spirit that sparked meaningful change. 

The 2020 keynote speaker was Valarie Kaur, the founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. Kaur is also a civil rights activist, lawyer, award winning filmmaker and faith leader.

Kaur delivered an address titled “Birthing the Beloved Community: The Practices of Revolutionary Love,” focusing on the way people can love “revolutionarily.”

Kaur’s passion for activism began when she was attending college and has continued for more than a decade. During the time between when she started her activism and today, she has seen the United States go through social turbulence. 

“Progress does not come in a straight line, it comes in expansions and contractions,” Kaur said. 

Today, Kaur describes America, and the world, as a place which feels as if it is sliding backwards. She sees hate and white nationalism rise and ponders Dr. King’s teachings.   

The ideas and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have served as inspiration to Kaur in her fight for civil rights. The idea of leading with love is one guiding ideal for Kaur.

“Love is more than a rush of feeling, love is labor,” Kaur said. 

Kaur’s idea of “revolutionary love” stems from Dr. King’s thought of leading with love and nonviolent methods. The three components of Kaur’s “revolutionary love” are love for others, love for opponents and love for ourselves.

Kaur’s idea of love for others is about finding a love for strangers and treating them similarly to those we know. Sharing love to those we may not know can help.

Love for ourselves is about taking time for oneself to make sure everything is fine and is under control. Kaur related this form of love to taking a moment to breathe and push through. 

For the form she called “love for opponents,” Kaur shared a personal story about loving an opponent.

Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, one of Kaur’s relatives was murdered in a hate-crime. Kaur making a call to the man who murdered her relative more than a decade and a half later, allowed her to love an opponent after seeing the murder’s sorrow and regret. 

“There is no such thing as monsters in this world, only wounded people,” Kaur said. 

To conclude her speech, Kaur stressed the importance of combining all three types of love in order for her method to work. 

“We need all three forms of love for it to be revolutionary,” Kaur said.

With the growing hostility in society, Kaur stressed that love and revolutionary love are more important forces than ever. 

To further her idea of revolutionary love, Kaur founded the Revolutionary Love Project. The Revolutionary Love Project has a declaration to idea of revolutionary love. Those who have signed the declaration include co-chair for the 2017 Women’s March Linda Sarsour and CNN contributor Van Jones.