Non- Violance Strategies during Civil Rights Movement - Essay Prowess

Non- Violance Strategies during Civil Rights Movement


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Non- Violance Strategies during Civil Rights Movement

The world has seen many violent and non-violent civil-rights movements throughout its existence. Historians mainly define the civil rights movements as the upsurge of African-American actions in the South from 1955 to 1965[1]. In general, the movements culminated from the labor strikes and protests, the deteriorating cotton industry, as well as the urbanization of the African-Americans. Mainly, the civil rights movement was a reaction opposing democracy in the United States. The minorities felt that they were being denied in terms of their rights in their country. Consequently, the leaders of the movements had opposing ideas on the type of strategies applied during their protests. Malcolm X maintained that the African Americans needed to continue defending themselves from the ruthless and violent racist individuals by means of violence for better results[2]. However, Leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr. supported non-violent strategies as they believed that it will fill the environment with aggressive violence[3].  In this case, various non-violent strategies were used to protest how African Americans had been treated by the government and other citizens; consequently they have changed over the time as exemplified by sit-ins and Montgomery Bus Boycott. 

First, Martin Luther King was the leader of the non-violent protest called the Montgomery Bus Boycott to object the arrest of Rosa Parks. In 1955, racial discrimination had highly increased in the city of Montgomery as cases of African American urbanization continued to rise[4]. During the period, there was an increase in cotton production, as well as trade, which had changed former slaves to cotton ranchers. After the Second World War, racial discrimination increased to a point whereby many towns in the South separated bus seating arrangements based on race. To be more specific, although both whites and blacks rode in the same buses, they were required to sit in different places.

Hence, the regulations expressed direct racial discrimination that caused discontent of the Black people. Montgomery was one of the cities that implemented rules that required Africans Americans not to sit near the whites[5]. They faced brutality directed to them by the police force. Black individuals found sitting on the places reserved for the whites were arrested. For instance, Rosa Parks was one of those detained for not following the law concerning the bus seating arrangements. The law required that in a case of a standing white man, African Americans should stand up and give the person a seat. However, Rosa Parks did not believe in this rule; subsequently, she refused to stand up for a white man, which led to her detention. After her arrest, Martin Luther King and other people organized a successful non-violent boycott; all the blacks refused to board the buses. Some of the working class decided to walk while others took cans. As such, the held peaceful protest against the unfair treatment of the blacks was successful without facing any victims.

Additionally, the Civil Rights Movement organized sit-ins as a way to hold peaceful demonstrations. The first sit-in was conducted in 1960 to oppose Jim Crow practices in Greensboro, North Carolina[6]. The campaign was led by Lawson and other leaders of non-violent campaigns. Despite being threatened by the authorities, the minority groups continued holding sit-ins until their request was fulfilled. They were arrested and beaten by the authorities; however, it did not derail them, but this move rather encouraged others to join in the protests. Consequently, various church leaders supported the campaigns, and they considerably influenced other peaceful demonstrations.  

During the civil rights movements, many arguments were raised concerning the violent and non-violent demonstrations. Martin Luther King Jr., who was one of the leading supporters of peaceful campaigns, maintained that violence was a descending spiral encouraging chaos,  which is one thing that focuses on destroying[7]. He also maintained that in violent warfare individuals should be ready to face many casualties. He did not change his views during the entire period. Nevertheless, those that supported violent campaigns maintained that there was a need for people to fight for their rights[8]. Also, they argued that the only way to stop a man with a weapon is to use a rifle or club. Thus, it is evident that violent and non-violent movements have been completely different in terms of fundamental notions. 


African Americans used different non-violence strategies, which had altered during the Civil Rights Movements, to oppose the unfair treatment in their country. They held boycotts to object the segregation of the blacks in buses. Consequently, they held various sit-ins to protest the mistreatment of the African Americans by those in authority. Although peaceful demonstrations led to minimal casualties, other civil rights movement leaders supported violent campaigns, which caused a great number of deaths, as they assumed that it was the only way that their cries could be heard. 


Balcı, Hüdaverdi , and Fatih Balcı. “Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: The Montgomery Bus

Boycott.” International journal of human sciences vol. 8, no. 2 (2011): 315-27. Accessed May 24, 2017.

Ling, Peter J. Martin Luther King, Jr. Routledge, 2015.

Miller, Wilbur R. The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia.

SAGE Publications, 2012.

Mjagkij, Nina. Organizing Black America. Routledge, 2013.

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