In Martin Luther King, Jr.¹s selection, Nonviolent Resistance which first appeared in 1958 as a part of his book Stride Towards Freedom, he describes the processes people follow as they confront their situation. There are three ways he explained how oppressed people can deal with their situation.
The different processes that are opened to the oppressed people are acquiescence, violence, and nonviolent resistance. Martin Luther King, Jr. does not approve of the first two processes because they are both immoral and impractical.
He absolutely detests the process of acquiescence because it means that the Negroes are giving in to the whites unjust system. He stated that the Negroes must earn the respect of the white people. But how can the black community win the respect of the whites who oppressed them? They must stand up for their rights and must not accept that they don’t have the freedom to become citizens of the United States of America. African Americans are Americans and the Constitution’s Bill of Rights applies to every single American.
As an example, women weren¹t allowed to vote prior to 1920. The women citizens of America wanted to vote and they had the right to vote. They fought and fought for the freedom to vote. On August 18, 1920, a bill was passed by Congress that gave women the right to vote which became the 19th Amendment. After 40 years of fighting, they eventually achieved their goal, the right to vote, and won respect. The American women never gave up fighting against the corrupted system.
The point of this example is that you can¹t sit down and accept your oppression because it just may be the easier way. You have to fight the system in order to achieve your goal and you¹ll eventually get it.
The second way oppressed people deal with their situation is to resort to violence. Martin Luther King, Jr. disliked this process also because it is impractical and it doesn’t work. By resorting to violence you don¹t achieve peace and/or brotherhood but create more social and racial problems. It builds a social barrier between the two races. Negroes cannot win the respect of their oppressors by using violence. History is full of examples.
A good example of this process is the Rodney King controversy that brought and created the L.A. riots. All because of the trial against the police officers, chaos exploded in Los Angeles. When the riots began, the two races built a social barrier immediately which resulted in violence and hatred. It created a war between blacks and whites. It made the two races hate each other even more than before this riot, but it lasted only for a short while. The violence may have brought a victory for the blacks but it did not create permanent peace, nor did it solve any social and racial problems. Instead, it may have created more problems.
The example of the L.A. riots and examples throughout history shows that violence achieves nothing more than hatred and more complicated problems. Using violence as a way to achieve racial justice is immoral and impractical because it cannot and will not win the respect of the oppressors. It will just create bitterness and a social barrier between the two races. One of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote from this selection best states that “the old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.” If the oppressed result in violence, it¹ll bring ³an endless reign of meaningless chaos² and their children will have to pay the price.
The third way is nonviolent resistance. Martin Luther King, Jr. really favors this choice of method because it is the right and moral way to achieve freedom and peace. Nonviolent resistance is a combination of acquiescence and violence that will enable an individual or group that will need submit to any wrong. It is a way to loosen the tension between justice and injustice and end racial or any other form of oppression.
Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that the oppressed people must organize themselves into a militant and nonviolent mass movement in order to achieve the goal of integration. The oppressed must convince the oppressors that all he seeks is justice, for both himself and the oppressors. The way of nonviolence means a willingness to suffer and sacrifice. It¹s the ultimate form of persuasion through words or acts, even death to free us all from injustice.
This quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.,”I have a dream that one day…that the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice,” says it all.
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