The Sword That Heals

September 28, 2006 at 12:51 am Leave a comment

Ch. 2 Why We Can’t Wait, Martin Luther King, Jr.

In this chapter, MLK lays out his argument for the use of nonviolent resistance, the sword that heals.  

 “Acceptance of nonviolent direct action was a proof a certain sophistication on the part of the Negro masses; for it showed that they dared to break with the old, ingrained concepts of our society.”- p. 23

The very idea of nonviolent resistance is rather counterintuitive to American culture. We think the only ways to respond to aggression & repression are “fight or flight” –it represents a rejection of that kind of all-or nothing thinking. Perhaps those who are marginalized by society are more likely to question assumptions that more mainstream individuals take for granted.

In my time as an activist, I’ve noticed organization tend to either rely heavily either on lobbying/legal action or protesting/direct action, while seeing the other tactic as not being useful. I have argued that both are necessary in certain circumstances. I was excited to see, that long before me, MLK came to the same conclusion.

“Direct action is not a substitute for work in the courts and halls of government.  Bringing about passage of a new and broad law in Congress or pleading cases in the courts of the land does not eliminate the necessity for bringing about the mass dramatization of injustice in front of city hall. Indeed, direct action and legal action complement each other; when skillfully employed, each becomes more effective.” –p.28


Entry filed under: Race/Ethnicity.

Class & Disability Decline of the Civil Rights Movement

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