Gandhi and King: The Power of Nonviolent Resistance

By Michael J. Nojeim | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
King's Nonviolent
Resistance Campaigns

No one can scorn nonviolent direct action or civil disobe-
dience without canceling out American history.

—Martin Luther King, Jr., Address to the
American Jewish Committee, 1965

This chapter examines several of the most well-known nonviolent resistance campaigns associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Some of them, such as the Selma March, achieved significant results, while others, such as the Albany, Georgia, campaign, were mostly failures. Still others, such as the Chicago Housing Project Campaign, resulted in a mixture of success and failure. In discussing each of these campaigns, this chapter presents a general background and then focuses on how nonviolent tactics and strategies succeeded or failed to accomplish goals. Even with failed campaigns, such as the one in Albany, King learned valuable lessons about how nonviolent resistance could be better utilized in other campaigns.

Note that King had significant help in organizing and carrying out these nonviolent campaigns. Notable figures who helped train the nonviolent activists included Bayard Rustin, Robert Gregg, and James Lawson. Note also that the nonviolent campaigns mentioned in this chapter do not depict the black civil rights struggle in its entirety. Many campaigns were carried out by other black leaders who were unsympathetic and even hostile to King and the SCLC's nonviolent movement. These leaders included Huey Newton and

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