Kingian principles of nonviolence
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‘Kingian’ Principles of Nonviolence

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Kingian principles of nonviolence

‘Kingian’ Principles of Nonviolence

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective… We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny… If we are to have peace in the world, men and nations must embrace the nonviolent affirmation that ends and means must cohere.”

Christmas Eve speech, 1967


Kingian principles of nonviolence

King said oppressed people could respond to their oppression in 3 ways:

  • They can acquiesce in their oppression and simply take it

  • They can resist their oppression using violence

  • They can resist non-violently

  • Nonviolent resistance was “nothing less than Christianity in action… the Christian way of life in solving problems of human relations.”


Philosophical views on nonviolence

Philosophical views on nonviolence

5-point programme:

  • Nonviolence not for cowards

  • Nonviolence not to defeat or humiliate opponents

  • Nonviolence the catalyst for redemption

  • Nonviolence to avoid ‘external’ or physical harm of violence

  • Nonviolence because forces of universe bend towards justice


Key elements

Key elements

  • The Beloved Community

  • The Principle of Agape

  • Justice and Just Laws

  • Civil Disobedience and Self-Suffering

  • Means and Ends


Beloved community

Beloved community

  • Integration rather than mere desegregation

  • March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

  • “I Have a Dream”

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V57lotnKGF8


Kingian principles of nonviolence

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed... that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi... will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream today! I have a dream that... one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”


Principle of agape

Principle of Agape

  • “It is a love that seeks nothing in return.”

  • “Agape is an understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill toward all men. It enables us to love every man not because we like him or because his ways appeal to us but because God loves him.”

  • “hate the sin, but love the sinner”.


Justice and just laws

Justice and Just Laws

  • The more injustice there is in a community, the greater the potential for violence.

  • “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

  • “No nation can suffer any greater tragedy than to cause millions of its citizens to feel that they have no stake in their won society.”

  • Letter from Birmingham Jail


Civil disobedience and self suffering

Civil Disobedience and Self-Suffering

  • King’s civil disobedience: openly defying laws considered unjust and willingly accepting the punishment and accompanying suffering.

  • “rivers of blood may have to flow before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood.”

  • “If physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent life of psychological death, then nothing could be more Christian.”


Means and ends

Means and Ends

  • to “awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor and challenge his false sense of superiority... The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.”

  • “I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even moreso, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.”

  • King had to modify his message to admit that pure means do not automatically create pure ends.


Nonviolent resistance campaigns

Nonviolent Resistance Campaigns

  • The Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56)

  • Albany, Georgia (1961-62)

  • Birmingham, Alabama (1963)

  • Selma, Alabama (1965)

  • The Chicago Housing Project (1966)


The montgomery bus boycott 1955 56

The Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56)

  • Montgomery the “Cradle of the Confederacy”

  • Population 130,000; 50,000 blacks

  • Humiliating and violent bus system

  • Claudette Colvin

  • Rosa Parks

  • Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA)

  • “the real victory was in the mass meeting, where thousands of black people stood revealed with a new sense of dignity and destiny”

  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

  • NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, formed 1909).


Albany georgia 1961 62

Albany, Georgia (1961-62)

  • While Montgomery represented a success for King’s strategy, the campaign in Albany, Georgia, represented a failure

  • Half of 56,000 population black

  • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), different direction to NAACP

  • Albany’s facilities remained just as segregated as they always were or closed down entirely to avoid being desegregated

  • Campaign can be considered a failure, although King did claim some success from movement


Birmingham alabama 1963

Birmingham, Alabama (1963)

  • Project C for “Confrontation”

  • “break the back of segregation all over the nation”

  • Police commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor

  • “Birmingham Manifesto”

  • Use of children in demonstrations

  • “How do you feel doing these things? Bring on your dogs. Turn on your hoses. We’re not going to retreat.”

  • King: “I saw there, I felt there, for the first time, the pride and power of nonviolence.”


Kingian principles of nonviolence

“We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. We will not hate you. And yet, we cannot in good conscience obey your evil laws. Do to us what you will. Threaten our children and we will still love you... Bomb our churches... and we will still love you. We will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. In winning the victory, we will not only win our freedom, we will also appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process.”

-King’s declaration to Bull Connor and other segregationists


Selma alabama 1965

Selma, Alabama (1965)

  • More than half of 29,000 population black

  • Free voting rights for blacks

  • “Creative tension”

  • Voting Rights Act which essentially killed the Jim Crow Laws (1876 Laws that required blacks to use separate public facilities and prevented blacks from voting or taking an active role in politics) 

  • The Selma March was arguably the Civil Rights Movement’s and King’s finest hour.


The chicago housing project 1966

The Chicago Housing Project (1966)

  • Racial discrimination in the North revolved around life in the crowded, dilapidated urban ghettoes.

  • Chicago one of most ghettoised of northern cities. Population 3.5 million, one-third of which was black.

  • Joblessness and poor housing conditions

  • Economic problems of class rather than race; severely depressed economic standards of blacks were a “structural part of the economy”

  • More subtle racism

  • Constitutional rights in the South versus human rights in the North.


Kingian principles of nonviolence

  • Riots “the language of the unheard”

  • “If we can break the system in Chicago, it can be broken anywhere in the country”

  • Marches in white neighbourhoods leading to white riots

  • Chicago Campaign ultimately a failure. Revealed how deeply entrenched racism and discrimination in America actually were.


Revolution in values

“Revolution in values”

“One of the great problems of mankind is that we suffer from a poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually… So much of modern life can be summarised in the great phrase from Henry David Thoreau: ‘improved means to an unimproved end’.”


Poor people s campaign

Poor People’s Campaign

“Why do white people seem to find it so difficult to understand that the Negro is sick and tired of having reluctantly parcelled out to him those rights and privileges which all others receive upon birth or entry to America? I never cease to wonder at the amazing presumption of much of white society, assuming that they have the right to bargain with the Negro for his freedom.”


Conclusion

Conclusion

  • Campaigns did contribute significantly to the passage of 2 landmark pieces of legislation ultimately guaranteeing legal equality and rights for blacks.

    • The direct political result of King’s “Christian Satyagraha” was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was a direct outcome of the Birmingham Campaign.

    • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a direct outcome of the Selma March.

  • Ultimately, King’s greatest gift to blacks was that he “taught them how to confront those who oppressed them, how to take pride in their race and their history, and how to demand and win their constitutional rights as American citizens.”

  • No small accomplishment for a man who didn’t live to see his 40th birthday.


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