Martin Luther King



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Nonviolent Protest, Pro and Con

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1. Martin Luther King. Until the bright day of justice emerges, there is something I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold, which leads them to the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. Martin Luther King, "I Have a Dream Speech," March on Washington, 1963.

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To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory. Martin Luther King, 1957.




Said Mohandas Gandhi, Suffering is infinitely more powerful than the law of the jungle for converting the opponent and opening his ears which are otherwise shut to the voice of reason. Martin Luther King, 1957.




Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies or else? The chain reaction of evil hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars must be broken. Martin Luther King, 1957.




The Negro was willing to risk martyrdom in order to move and stir the social conscience of his community and the nation. He would force his oppressor to commit his brutality openly, with the rest of the world looking on. Nonviolent resistance paralyzed and confused the power structures against which it was directed. Martin Luther King, Why We Can’t Wait, 1964.







2. Moral High Ground. On January 30, [1956] After putting the baby to bed, Coretta and Mrs. Williams went to the living room to look at television. About nine-thirty they heard a noise in front that sounded as though someone had thrown a brick. In a matter of seconds an explosion rocked the house. A bomb had gone off on the porch . . .
As I walked toward the front the porch I realized that many people were armed. Nonviolent resistance was on the verge of being transformed into violence. In this atmosphere I walked out to the porch and asked the crowd come to order. In less than a moment there was complete silence. Quietly I told them that I was all right and that my wife and baby were all right. "Now let's not become panicky," I continued. "If you have weapons, take them home; if you do not them, please do not seek to get them. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with nonviolence. Remember the words of Jesus: 'He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.'" I then urged them to leave peacefully. "We must love our white brothers," I said, "no matter they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: 'Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.' This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love. Remember," I ended, "if I am stopped, this movement will not stop, because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance." Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom, Clayborne Carson, African-American Professor of History at Stanford Univer­sity David J. Garrow, Professor of Political Science at City College of New York Gerald Gill, Professor of History at Tufts University Vincent Harding, African-American Professor of Religion and Social Transformation at the Iliff School of Theology and Darlene Clark Hine, African-Professor of American History at Michigan State University, eds., The Eyes On The Prize Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, And Firsthand Accounts From The Black Freedom Struggle, 1954-1990 (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 56-7.

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More important than the immediate victories of the Montgomery boycott was its success in establishing a new form of racial protest and in elevating to prominence a new figure in the movement for civil rights. The man chosen to head the boycott movement after its launching was a local Baptist pastor, Martin Luther King, Jr., the son of a prominent Atlanta minister, a powerful orator, and a gifted leader. King's approach to black protest was based on the doctrine of non-violence-that is, of passive resistance even in the face of direct attack. He drew from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian nationalist leader; from Henry David Thoreau and his doctrine of civil disobedience; and from Christian doctrine. And he produced an approach to racial struggle that captured the moral high ground for his supporters. He urged African Americans to engage in peaceful demonstrations; to allow them to be arrested, even beaten, if necessary; and to respond to hate with love. Alan Brinkley, American History: a Survey Volume II: Since 1865 (New York: McGraw Hill, Inc., 1995), 806-7.




Martin Luther King objected to violence and hatred on moral grounds: "It thrives on hated rather than love . . . destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It solves no social problem; it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Martin Luther King, 1961.







3. Public Opinion. Advocacy of violence as a tool of advancement, organized as in warfare, deliberately and consciously. To this tendency many Negroes are being tempted today. There are incalculable perils in this approach. It is not the danger or sacrifice of physical being which is primary, though it cannot be contemplated without a sense of deep concern for human life. The greatest danger is that it will fail to attract Negroes to a real collective struggle, and will confuse the large uncommitted middle group, which as yet has not supported either side. Further, it will mislead Negroes into the belief that this is the only path and place them as a minority in a position where they confront a far larger adversary than it is possible to defeat in this form of combat. When the Negro uses force in self-defense he does not forfeit support—he may even win it, by the courage and self-respect it reflects. When he seeks to initiate violence he provokes questions about the necessity for it, and inevitably is blamed for its consequences. It is unfortunately true that however the Negro acts, his struggle will not be free of violence initiated by his enemies, and he will need ample courage and willingness to sacrifice to defeat this manifestation of violence. But if he seeks it and organizes it, he cannot win. Martin Luther King, Jr., Liberation magazine (October 1959), President of the Southern Christian Le Conference, Clayborne Carson, 113.

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There, on Wednesday evening, February 17, 1965 a small civil rights march was attacked by lawmen and one participant, Jimmy Lee Jackson, was shot by an Alabama state trooper. Several days later Jackson died, and Marion activists, in conjunction with the SCLC staff, decided that a fitting movement response to his death would be a mass pilgrimage from Selma to the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery. The march was scheduled for Sunday, March 7. The SCLC leaders, King and Ralph Abernathy, were in Atlanta preaching at their respective churches, and the six-hundred-person column was led by the SCLC's Hosea Williams and SNCC chairman John Lewis. After crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River on the eastern edge of downtown Selma, the marchers' path was blocked by scores of Alabama state troopers and Clark's local lawmen. The troopers' commander instructed the marchers turn around and walk back into Selma; when the column did move, the gas-masked lawmen walked forward, pushing marchers to the ground and striking others with billy clubs as tear canisters were fired at the peaceful parade. Within seconds scene was a bloody rout with mounted possemen chasing marchers back across the bridge into Selma. More than fifty participants were treated at local hospitals.
Television footage of the eerie and gruesome attack produced immediate national outrage. King issued a public call for civil rights supporters across the nation to come to Selma to show their support and join a second attempted march; congressmen of parties called upon President Lyndon B. Johnson to intervene in Alabama and to speedily put voting rights legislation before Congress. Johnson's Justice Department aides already had hard at work preparing a comprehensive voting rights bill, the "bloody Sunday" attack and the national reaction to it spurred the White House to press for a faster completion of the drafting process. Clayborne Carson, 206.




Last Sunday, more than eight thousand of us started on a mighty walk from Selma, Alabama . . . Selma, Alabama, became a shining moment in the conscience of man. There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled Negroes. Clayborne Carson, 224-5.







4. Economic Persuasion. One of King's most famous orations, perhaps second only to his August 28, 1963, "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington, is his April 3, 1968, "mountaintop" speech delivered at the Mason Temple in Memphis the night before his death.
We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles, we don't need any Molotov cocktails, we just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, "God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children' right. And we've come by here ask you that to make the first item on your agenda—fair treatment where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you." Clayborne Carson, 414.

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'The Negro people can organize socially to initiate many forms of struggle which can drive their enemies back without resort to futile and harmful violence. In the history of the movement, . . . many creative forms have been developed—the mass boycott, sitdown protests and strikes, sit-ins—refusal to pay fines and bail for unjust arrests—mass marches—mass meetings—prayer pil­grimages, etc. There is more power in socially organized masses on the march than there is in guns in the hands of a few desperate men. Our enemies would prefer to deal with a small armed group rather than with a huge, unarmed but resolute mass of people. However, it is necessary that the mass-action method be persistent and unyielding. Gandhi said the Indian people must "never let them rest," referring to the British. He urged them to keep protesting daily and weekly, in a variety of ways. This method inspired and organized the Indian masses and disorganized and demobilized the British. It educates its myriad participants, socially and morally. All history teaches us that like a turbulent ocean beating great cliffs into fragments of rock, the determined movement of people incessantly demanding their rights always disintegrates the all order. Martin Luther King, Jr., Liberation magazine (October 1959), President of the Southern Christian Le Conference, Clayborne Carson, 113-4.




Our method will be that of persuasion, not coercion. Our actions must be guided by the deepest principles of our Christian faith. Love must be our regulating ideal. Once again we must hear the words of Jesus echoing across the centuries: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you. In spite of the mistreatment that we have confronted we must not become bitter, and end up by hating our white brothers. As Booker T. Washington said, "Let no man pull you so low as to make you hate him." Martin Luther King, 1955, his organizing speech beginning the Montgomery Bus boycott. Peter B. Levy, ed., Documentary History of the Modern Civil Rights Movement (New York: Greenwood Press, 1992), 59.




Letter from Albany Merchant Leonard Gilberg to Albany Police Chief Laurie Pritchett, July 23, 1962
One of the Albany Movement's tactics was to mount a boycott against many downtown white businesses in the hope that pressure on the pock­etbook would achieve what appeals to whites' consciences had not pro­duced. Leonard Gilberg's letter to Chief Pritchett was written during a period of mass protests that took place during July and August 1962.
Dear Chief Pritchett:
In order to inform you as to the situation business-wise for myself and other merchants with whom I have spoken, I am sure you will find the following to be true.
At least 90 to 95% of all the negro business I have enjoyed in past years has been lacking for the last 7 months due to an obvious boycott on the part of the negroes and threats and coercion toward other negroes not in sympathy with the movement to keep them from shopping downtown in Albany.
Now to top all this off, their constant harassment, sit-ins, demonstrations, marching, etc. are keeping all people both white and negro from Albany. Many customers have told me direct that they would not come to Albany from out of town due to fear of demonstrations in Albany and local people have said that they ask their wives and children to stay out of town for the same reason.
Our business is at present suffering an approximate 50% de­crease due to lack of customer traffic in Albany and it is an intolerable situation. This fear of mob violence and demonstration has made our situation a dire one. Any aid you can give us in the matter will be greatly appreciated and our thanks to you for the wonderful manner in which you have handled these past events.
Very truly yours, Gilberg's Leonard Gilberg. Clayborne Carson, 146.







5. Gandhi. This is in essence the principle of nonviolent cooperation. It follows therefore that it must have its root in love. Its object should not be to punish the opponent or to inflict injury upon him. Even while noncooperating with him, we must make him feel that in us he has a friend and we should try to reach his heart by rendering him humanitarian service wherever possible. Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1940, 158.

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Its root is "holding on to the truth,” hence "force of righteousness." I have also called it love force or soul force. In the application of Satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not permit violence being inflicted on one's opponent, but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For what appears to truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by the infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on one’s self. Mohandas K. Gandhi, Defense Against Charge Of Sedition, 1922.




Nonviolence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering. It does not mean meek submission to the will of the evil doer, but it means pitting of one's whole soul against the will of the tyrant. Working under this law of our being, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honor, his religion, his soul, and lay the foundation for that empire’s fall or its regeneration. Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1940, 156.




I praise such courage. I need such courage because in this cause I too am prepared to die, but my friends there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill. Whatever they do to us, we will attack no one, kill no one, but we will not give our fingerprints not one of us. They will imprison us, they will fine us, and they will seize our possessions, but they cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them. I am asking you to fight against their anger not provoke it. We will not strike a blow, but we will receive them, and through our pain we will make them see their injustice. And it will hurt as all fighting hurts, but we cannot lose. They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me. Then they will have my dead body not my obedience. They then sang, “God Save The King.” Gandhi quoted by Richard Attenborough, Gandhi (Burbank, California: Columbia Pictures, 1982).




“When asked whether or not he supported the war effort in 1915, Gandhi said, "If as a citizen I wish to enjoy the benefits and protection of the British Empire, it would be wrong of me to not help in its defense. They are preparing for war. I will not support it but I do not intend to take advantage of the danger. We’ve come a long way together with the British, when they leave we want to see them off as friends.” Richard Attenborough, Gandhi (Burbank, California: Columbia Pictures, 1982).




Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good. But in the past, non-cooperation has been deliberately expressed in violence to the evildoer. I am endeavoring to show to my countrymen that violent non-cooperation only multiplies evil and that as evil can only be sustained by violence, withdrawal of support of evil requires complete abstention from violence. Nonviolence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-cooperation with evil. Mohandas K. Gandhi (1922), William Safire, Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches In History (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992), 326.







5. Robert F. Williams. Robert F. Williams of Monroe, North Carolina, was one of the few civil rights activists who openly challenged the idea that blacks should rely on nonviolent tactics. In 1959 Williams's position had prompted the national office of the NAACP to suspend him as head of its Monroe chapter.
In 1954, I was an enlisted man in the United States Marine Corps . . . Laws serve to deter crime and protect the weak from the strong in civilized society. Where there is a breakdown of law, where is the force of deterrent? Only highly civilized and moral individuals respect the rights of others. The Southern brute respects only force. Nonviolence is a very potent weapon when the opponent is civilized, but nonviolence is no repellent for a sadist . . .
In 1957 the Klan moved into Monroe and Union County (N.C.). Their numbers steadily increased to the point wherein the local press reported 7500 at one rally. They became so brazen that mile-long motorcades started invading the Negro community . . .
Each time the Klan came on a raid, they were led by police cars. We appealed to the President of the United States to have the Justice Department investigate the police. We appealed to Gov­ernor Luther Hodges. All our appeals to constituted law were in vain . . .
On May 5, 1959, while president of the Union County branch of the NAACP, I made a statement to the United Press Interna­tional after a trial wherein a white man was supposed to have been tried for kicking a Negro maid down a flight of stairs in a white hotel. In spite of the fact that there was an eyewitness, the defendant failed to show up for his trial, he was completely exonerated.
Another case in the same court involved a white man who had come to a pregnant Negro mother's home and attempted to rape her. In recorder's court the only defense offered for the defendant was that "he's not guilty. He was just drunk and having a little fun." A white woman neighbor testified that the woman had come to her house excited, her clothes torn, her feet bare and begging her for assistance; the court was unmoved.
This great miscarriage of justice left me sick inside, and I said then what I say now. I believe Negroes must be willing to defend themselves, their women, their children and their homes. They must be willing to die and to kill in repelling their assailants. Negroes must protect themselves, it is obvious that the federal government will not put an end to lynching; therefore it becomes necessary for us to stop lynching with violence. Some Negroes leaders have cautioned me that if Negroes fight back, the racist will have cause to exterminate the race.
This government is in no position to allow mass violence to erupt, let alone allow twenty million Negroes to be exterminated. It is instilled at an early age that men who violently and swiftly rise to oppose tyranny are virtuous examples to emulate. I have been taught by my government to fight. Nowhere in the annals of history does the record show a people delivered from bondage by patience alone. Robert F. Williams, Liberation magazine (September 1959), Clayborne Carson, 110-2.

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Robert Williams from Monroe, North Carolina, was an ex marine and war veteran who didn't scare easily. With a number of other black veterans, he formed a particularly strong chapter of the NAACP. Williams successfully integrated the Monroe Public Library and geared up to end discrimination in housing, employment and public facilities. After his group began a stand in at an all white swimming pool, Klansmen started riding in motorcades through the black community, honking their horns and firing pistols and shotguns. At one point they stopped a black woman on a street corner and forced her to dance at gunpoint. Peter B. Levy, 301.




When William’s protests to local and state officials and even to President Eisenhower went unheard he applied to the National Rifle Association and received a charter. Sixty members of his association begin arming themselves, and Williams provided the training. In the summer of 1957, an armed motorcade of Klansmen drove into William’s neighborhood, and Williams and his men shot it out with them, until the undisciplined Klansmen were forced to flee for their lives. Peter B. Levy, 301.







6. Malcolm X. A prefatory note in Malcolm X Speaks, edited by George Breitman, explains the context for this speech, delivered shortly before Malcolm X's break with Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam: "In late 1963, the Detroit Council for Human Rights announced a Northern Negro Leadership Conference to be held in Detroit on November 9 and 10.
The white man does the same thing to you in the street, when he wants to put knots on your head and takes advantage of you and does not have to be afraid of your fighting back. To keep you from fighting back, he gets these old religious Uncle Toms to teach you and me, just like novocaine, to suffer peacefully. Don't stop suffering—just suffer peacefully. As Rev. Cleage pointed out, they say you should let your blood flow in the streets. This is a shame. You know he's a Christian preacher. If it's a shame to him, you know what it is to me.
There is nothing in our book, the Koran that teaches us to suffer peacefully. Our religion teaches us to be intelligent. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. That's a good religion. In fact, that's that old-time religion. That's the one that Ma and Pa used to talk about: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, and a head for a head, and a life for a life. That's a good religion. And nobody resents that kind of religion being taught but a wolf, who intends to make you his meal.
This is the way it is with the white man in America. He's a wolf—and you're sheep. Any time a shepherd, a pastor, teaches you and me not to run from the white man and, at the same time, teaches us not to fight the white man, he's a traitor to you and me. Don't lay down a life all by itself. No, preserve your life, it's the best thing you've got. And if you've got to give it up, let it be even-steven. Clayborne Carson, 256-7.

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You don't have a peaceful revolution. You don’t have a turn the other cheek revolution. There's no such thing as a nonviolent revolution. Revolution is bloody. Revolution is hostile. Revolution knows no compromise. Revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way. Malcolm X, 1960.




There are 22,000,000 African Americans who are ready to fight for independence right here. When I say fight for independence right here, I don’t mean any non violent fight, or turn the other cheek fight. Those days are gone. Those days are over. Malcolm X, 1964, Peter B. Levy, 176.




Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. Malcolm X, New York City, 1964.




Only two things bring you freedom  the ballot or the bullet. Only two things. Well, if you and I don't use the ballot, we're going to be forced to use the bullet. So let us try the ballot. And if the ballot doesn't work, we'll try something else. But let us try the ballot. Malcolm X, 1964.




Strength lies not in defense but in attack. Adolph Hitler, 933.







7. Karl Marx. “The Communists openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling class tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries unite.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, (1911) reprinted by Brian Tierney, Donald Kagan and L. Pearce Williams, Great Issues in Western Civilization, Volume Two (New York: Random House, 1967), 283.

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The replacement of the bourgeoisies by the proletarian state is impossible without a violent revolution. Vladimir I. Lenin, State and Revolution (New York: International Publishers, 1932), 20.




The so-called "democratic" power lies with the money elites (the rich folks). Democracy, like every other form of government, consists of organized, systematic application of force against human beings. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 82.




Political power is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 350.







8. Armed Resistance. In 1866 a small group of blacks protested the arrest of two of their members by six policemen in Memphis, Tennessee. The police fired into the crowd wounding one black. The blacks then had the temerity to fire back, wounding one policeman. The entire police force gathered in the center of town with a huge crowd of white citizens. John Creighton, the Memphis city recorder, yelled to the crowd, "We are not prepared, but let us prepare to clear every Negro son of a bitch out of town!" The angry white mob then proceeded to shoot, beat and threaten every Negro met within that portion of the city. When it was all over, two whites had been killed and two wounded. 46 blacks had been killed and eighty wounded. And scores of black churches, schools, and homes had been burned, resulting in a loss of over $53,379. According to the investigation by the army, all the victims of the riot had been "helpless and unresisting Negroes." Wyn Craig Wade, The Fiery Cross, The Ku Klux Klan in America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 24.

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In Grant Parish, freedmen who feared Democrats would seize the government cordoned off the county seat of Colfax and began drilling and digging trenches under the command of black veterans and militia officers. They held the tiny town for three weeks; on Easter Sunday, whites armed with rifles and a small cannon overpowered the defenders and an indiscriminate slaughter followed, including the massa­cre of some fifty blacks who lay down their arms under a white flag of surrender. Two whites also died . . . The result was that on Easter Sunday of 1873, when the sun went down that night, it went down on the corpses of two hundred and eighty negroes."46 Eric Foner, New Left Professor of American History at Columbia University, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Resolution (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 437.
46. KKK Hearings, Mississippi, 244, South Carolina, 15; 46th Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Report 693, pt 2:357, 373, 409, 43.




Robert Charles was one of those people to improvise their lives while pressed against the wall, compelled to define in time of personal crisis what will be necessary for the possession of one's soul. Quiet, intense, in his twenties, a worker at odd jobs, a native of Mississippi, Charles was an agent of an emigration society, a reader of the materials of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, the brilliant, caustic promoter of African emigration in the black communities of America. Charles apparently did some writing of his own. He also had collected a small arsenal.
Then on a night in July 1900, he is sitting quietly on a front stoop, talking with a male friend. It is near midnight when the almost mythic, tragic encounter begins. Three white policemen appear. The arrogance of race and power is in the air, concretized in the drawn, menacing pistols, the flailing billy clubs, and the unprovoked announcement of arrest. Charles draws a pistol, shoots one of the officers, and runs, wounded, from the scene. But he refuses to keep running. He reaches his cache of arms, chooses at least one rifle, and moving from one hiding place to another, kills at least five policemen and wounds a dozen more from the scores who are on his trail. A mob of more than a thousand white men offer their welcome assistance to the police force, periodically, randomly pouring their fury and their am­munition into the black community. Finally Charles is burned out, down in a hail of bullets, and badly mutilated in death. But that was not the end. Ida Wells-Barnett almost immediately investigated the incident, and at the end of her report she said, white people of this country may charge that he was a desperado, but to the people of his own race Robert Charles will be regarded as 'the hero of New Orleans.'" Clayborne Carson, 11.







9. Fighting Back. The black troops in Houston, Texas, knew A. Philip Randolph was right when in August 1917, perhaps with the stench and the screams of East St. Louis still filling their being, they made their choice. Goaded by continuous and cruel white civilian attacks and provocations, finding no support from their military superiors, they used their democracy-defending weapons to strike out against those who chose to be their tormentors rather than their fellow Americans. White civilians were killed in a nighttime engagement. The soldiers were imprisoned, secretly tried, and secretly executed. But when the word broke loose, they were applauded by their people as heroes of the long and costly war to make America safe for its black citizens, safe for democracy and justice, safe for its posterity of every color. These were the brothers of Robert Charles. Clayborne Carson, 19.

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In 1899, Sam Hose, a plantation laborer who killed his employer in self-defense, was brutally murdered near Newman, Georgia, before two thousand onlookers, some of whom arrived on a special excursion train from Atlanta. The crowd watched as Hose's executioners cut off his ears, fingers, and genitals and burned him alive, and then fought over "sou­venirs," such as pieces of his bones. Law enforcement authorities made no effort to prevent the lynching or to bring the assailants to justice. Like many victims of lynchings, Hose was retrospectively accused of raping a white woman, a deed almost universally considered by white southerners as justification for extralegal vengeance. Eric Foner, 209.




“Lynching was the most terrible example of the way white supremacy made a mockery of the rule of law . . . In 1911 a white mob in Livermore, Kentucky dragged a black man accused of killing a white, to a local theater and hanged him before an audience of white townspeople who paid admission. Those paying for orchestra seats were invited to empty their pistols into the victim's swinging body.” Donald G. Nieman, Professor of History at Bowling Green University, Promises to Keep: African-Americans and the Constitutional Order, 1776 to the Present (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 119.







10. Others. On the weekend of April 15, 1960, student leaders of the southern sit-in movement met at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. The meeting, held at the initiative of Ella Baker, acting executive director of the SCLC, attracted 126 student delegates from fifty-six colleges in twelve southern states . . .
Love is the central motif of nonviolence. Love is the force by which God binds man to himself and man to man. Such love goes to the extreme; it remains loving and forgiving even in the midst of hostility. It matches the capacity of evil to inflict suffering with an even more enduring capacity to absorb evil, all the while persisting in love. By appealing to conscience and standing on the moral nature of human existence, nonviolence nurtures the atmosphere in which reconciliation and justice become actual possibilities. Clayborne Carson, 119-20.

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Reason can and will prevail, but of course it can only prevail with publicity pitiless, blatant publicity. You have go to make the people of the United States and of the world know what is going on in the South. You have got to use every field of publicity to force the truth into their ears, and before the eyes. You have got to make it impossible for any human being to live in the South and not realize the barbarities that prevail here. W.E.B. Dubois, cofounder of the NAACP, Peter B. Levy, 16.




The student leadership Conference made it crystal clear that current sit ins and other demonstrations are concerned with some thing much bigger than a hamburger or even a giant sized coke. We want the world to know that we no longer accept the inferior position of second class citizenship. We are wiling to go to jail, be ridiculed, spat upon and even suffer physical violence to obtain First Class Citizenship. Ella Baker, a graduate student and executive director of SCLC, who helped organize Student Leadership Conference on Nonviolent Resistance at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Peter B. Levy, 70.




Why non violent? CORE seeks understanding, not physical victory. It seeks to win the friendship, respect and even support of those whose racial policies it opposes. People cannot be bludgeoned into a feeling of equality. Integration, if it is not to be tense and artificial, must, in CORE’s view, be more than an armed truce. Real racial equality can be attained only through co operation; not the grudging co operation one exacts from a beaten opponent, but the voluntary interaction of two parties working toward a solution of a mutual problem. The Congress of Racial Equality, Peter B. Levy, 83.




By the fall of 1961 every southern and border state over one hundred communities had experienced sit ins (protesting segregated lunch counters). Over 70,000 individuals participated. Peter B. Levy, 65.







11. Freedom Riders. In good Gandhian fashion, James Farmer gave advance information of CORE's plans to the President, the attorney general, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Robert Kennedy said later that the information never got to his desk; the first he knew of the Freedom Ride was when a mob turned over the integrated bus and burned it outside Anniston, Alabama, on May 14, 1961. When a second bus reached Birmingham later that day, it was met by a mob led by Ku Klux Klansmen carrying pipes, chains, and baseball bats. Not a single policeman appeared. One of the Klansmen was a paid FBI informant who had briefed his "handler" about the Klan's plans, whereupon the Birmingham FBI office had sent a teletype to J. Edgar Hoover about the impending ambush. Hoover therefore knew that police chief Bull Connor had promised the Klan enough time to attack the Freedom Riders, whom Connor wanted beaten until "it looked like a bulldog got a hold of them." Hoover notified no one and did nothing. A sixty-one-year-old Freedom Rider was left permanently brain-damaged by the beating he suffered. Todd Gitlin, associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (New York: Bantam Books, 1987), 137.

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Armed state troopers did accompany their next bus to Montgomery-only to melt away as soon as the bus arrived. With no local police in sight, the waiting mob ran amok, bashing Freedom Riders and reporters with fists, sticks, metal pipes, and baseball bats, setting one person afire. John Seigenthaler, on the scene, saw two women slapped around and tried to help them into his car. He was jumped, beaten unconscious, and left lying on the ground by the police for twenty-five minutes before they drove him to a hospital. FBI agents stood around taking notes. Todd Gitlin, 137.




Rioters took turns smashing one Freedom Rider in the head while others chanted, "Kill the nigger-loving son of a bitch"; he lay bleeding, in shock, with a damaged spinal cord, for more than two hours before he was taken to the hospital. The police commissioner of Montgomery declared: "We have no intention of standing guard for a bunch of troublemakers coming into our city." Todd Gitlin, 137-8.




In Montgomery, the day after the bus station riot, Martin Luther King and James Farmer were addressing a huge church rally. Again a white mob gathered. Again Negroes were beaten. Whites threw stones, bottles, stench bombs, and firebombs through the church windows. Inside, the congregation tried to barricade the doors, but the mob kicked them open. Just then the marshals materialized, like movie cavalry-this time called out to protect the Indians. Todd Gitlin, 138.




Under movement pressure, gradually and gingerly, Robert Kennedy did nudge the FBI into a more aggressive posture. During his years at the Justice Department, the number of FBI agents in Mississippi soared from three to more than one hundred fifty. The Bureau did infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. To bitter-end whites, the FBI became the "Federal Bureau of Integration." In July 1964, after the murders of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney (the first two northern whites) near Philadelphia, Mississippi, it even opened a field office in the state capital. But even then, J. Edgar Hoover was not going to let his Bureau get pushed around by uppity blacks demanding that the authorities deliver on their rights. When Hoover opened his Mississippi office, he conferred with the governor, the mayor, the head of the state highway patrol, the local police chief--the entire local white-supremist political establishment. Todd Gitlin, 141-2.




Between 1961 and 1964, SNCC repeatedly, doggedly, sometimes desperately appealed for federal help. Their appeals were usually unavailing. Until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Justice Department only twice took legal action on behalf of assaulted civil rights workers. Todd Gitlin, 142.




For the first time, the words of "We Shall Overcome" began to acquire reality for opponents of segregation in the Deep South. The Freedom Rides eventually desegregated 120 interstate bus terminals. CORE Papers 1963, Peter B. Levy, 82.











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