Personality: Dr. Ram Bhagat
Spotlight on 2016 Peacemaker of the Year
6/17/2016, 2:08 p.m.
Meet this week’s Personality, a real peacemaker, Dr. Ram Bhagat:
Date and place of birth: March 28, in New Haven, Conn.
Current residence: Richmond’s South Side.
Alma maters: Virginia State University, bachelor’s in microbiology;Virginia Commonwealth University, bachelor’s in science education; VSU, master’s in school and community counseling; VCU, post-graduate certificate in administration and supervision; VCU, doctorate in leadership.
Family: Fiancée, Traci L. Johnson and our daughter, Shanthi Ananda Bhagat, 14, and a blended family consisting of three daughters and three sons from our previous marriages, Kiran Bhagat, 31, Shyam Bhagat, 29, Kamala Bhagat, 28, Sohan Bhagat, 26, Kevin Johnson, 22, and Yasmeen Johnson, 20.
Occupation: Educator, trainer and consultant.
Other activities: I am the president of the board for The Conciliation Project. As co-founder and artistic director of Drums No Guns, I promote nonviolence through drumming, dance and drama.
Why this recognition is significant: The Richmond Peace Education Center’s Peacemaker of the Year Award is a great honor because it represents the huge impact that my work has had on so many people. I feel so blessed to know how my devotion to the struggle for peace affects those close to me.
Importance of peace: Peace is love. What the world needs is a paradigm shift from violence and hate to peace and love. When we lose touch with the natural rhythms of our bodies and our world, we also lose the ability to sustain healthy communities. Violence can be considered an extreme case of community out of balance, a form of social arrhythmia, where disconnection, mistrust and alienation prevail.
Why I advocate for it: Peace opens the heart and nurtures the soul. Achieving true peace and helping others reach the same goal is my purpose. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent question is: What are you doing for others.” I am committed to healing and rebuilding our communities.
I selected the name Drums No Guns to: Encourage young people to learn creative nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts. Drums No Guns is a metaphor for Life Not Death. DNG is my retaliation to gun violence. I use the power of drumming, dance and drama to celebrate life.
Why it is needed: Since the beginning of history, drums have helped us communicate, lifted our spirits and made us feel connected. There’s really no secret to the drum’s power. Rhythm is universal. Each culture has a distinct rhythm that expresses the pulse of that society. Drumming can reconnect, revitalize and synchronize community. I use drumming as a metaphor for family and community, by showing the inter-relationships of various rhythms from around the world.
Number of current participants: Drums No Guns world percussion ensemble ranges from five to 15 performers. Hundreds of youths have participated in DNG events and programs.
Hours of practice each week: 10,000 hours over 20 years.
Top highlights of program: “Stand for Children,” with a 1,000-voice choir on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund; Special Olympics World Games in New Haven, Conn.; Million Mom March on the National Mall in Washington; and 11th Annual Generation Dream Edu~Concert among many others!