A Movement to Change the World: Three Questions About Non-Violence to Black Power

1. How did the participants in the Civil Rights movement (people and organizations) think about and use non-violent direct-action?  What strategies did they employ and why?

Stated in Retreiving the Past by Mark Espisito, historians do not agree with the event that really started the civil rights movement.  Rather than trying to come to terms with something as trivial as a date, one should be looking at the hardships all African Americans have faced since they were first put on boats and sold into slavery, up to the present day.  All those events, combined, are the starting point of the Civil Rights movement.  With that said, and moving on to the question at hand, how did the participants of the movement think about and use non-violent action–only one word comes to mind:patience.  Negros have shown a determination in a foreign that rivals most heroicalstories of the past.  The methods used by the people and organizations were sit-ins, rallies, boycotts, speeches, marches, trials, and union; all of which saw the strength of the young to usher in a new age of peace without discrimination.

In 1941, there was a push to mobilize and coordinate the masses of youth so government could give defense jobs to Blacks and Whites.  By these means FDR quickly issued an Executive Order abolishing discriminations in all government departments.  It was through the tactic of broad, organized, aggressive as action against economic centers that things could change for the black man (but for everyone, if they think about it).  Another  example of non-violent direct-action was the strategic boycott of the bus company that threw Rosa Parks in jail because she refused to move to the back of the bus.  THe bus company almost went broke because it probably did not realize that a good amount of its profits came from Negros.  The strategy eventually kicked off, Parks not being the only one protesting, only that the cry rallied around around her.  Regardless, the boycott, though threatened, spat upon, physically harmed or threatened, gaimed the notice of enough politicians to create legislation protecting Black lives. Also, the forming of non-violent groups in and around colleges to spread the word about the various movements spurred actions of desegregation in school.

2. What are the main ideas of Black Power and the Black Panther Party? How did they differ from earlier ideas?

Black power was introduced to American culture as a slogan to the Civil Rights movement becasuse of the slow pace of progress.  Capitalizing on showing their strength in numbers and not ateaching fears of White America to the questions Negros had of the times is a clear interpretation of Black Power.  Black Power rallied behind the basic fact that all Negros had two problems: 1. They were poor, and 2. They were black, which all other problems seemed to rise from.

The Black Panther Party was committed to armed self-defense, and the idea of the party was that America’s ruling circle will not give up their power without a fight; changing policy in the ballot box would get nothing truly accomplished.  No one was going to give them their rights so the B.P.P. chose violence to get their goals accomplished.

These ideas of Black Power and the B.P.P. differ from earlier ideas because Negros now had confidence behind them and were able to speak up and speak out more.  Negros were winning legislation and securing jobs, boosting the morale for all.  The fist ideas were that of patience and trying not to cause too much turmoil so the whole movement would not suffer, but the the time Black Power and the B.P.P. came about morale was high and Negroes were more educated in the ways of the world to understand the tactics they had to employ to get things accomplished

3. Which Ideology was more effective? To what do you attribute Civil Rights gains for Blacks?

How can one say one ideology is more important than the other.  Without the initial, in many respects, there can be no latter.  Without the Black Panther Party causing turmoil in the inner circle of White America, America may never have listened to the peace the Dr. Martin Luther King was striving toward.  Without organizing peaceful parties (SNCC, SCLC) there may have never been a party that saw violence as their only way to change things.

Everything is related to another, and things might not have turned out the way they did without peace and violence.  Also, the deaths of those involved on both sides could be seen as the biggest gain to the Civil Rights, because that is when those in the inner circle saw that change must happen.  The voices of those that were killed and beaten, on both sides: black and white, cop and not, young and old, those afraid and those who are bold.  Everyone suffered during this movement, and still do, and maybe even in modernity, with little that has changed, there needs to be another non-violent direct-action movement to remind the inner circle that violence is also an option.


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