Today We Celebrate The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Filed in National by on January 18, 2010

Today we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a man who had a vision and the gifts to make everyone else not only see the vision as he saw it but to believe that it was possible. Although Dr. King was taken from us much too young, his beautiful words resonate through the ages and still inspire people who never got to see him in person.

I’ll have to admit that my favorite speech of all time is his “I Have A Dream Speech,” delivered on August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C. King was only 34 years old when he delivered this speech.

Text of “I Have A Dream”

am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [Applause]
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: 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 a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Opinionated chemist, troublemaker, blogger on national and Delaware politics.

Comments (55)

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  1. Delaware Dem says:

    We have come so far to realize his dream, but then I am reminded everyday whenever a teabagger opens his or her mouth, that we have still a long way to go.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Amazing speech. And, like DD, it reminds me of how much more there is to do in America.

  3. Brooke says:

    Well, I suppose it’s a half-empty, half-full thing.

    I look at Dr. King’s life and think, “This guy was tossed into jail for speaking out. One of the primary goals of the march was getting a $2 minimum wage. My kids have visited his boyhood home, which was made a National Historic Site in 1980. There’s a widely recognized holiday to remember him. And all that has happened in only 20 years?” And now we have a black President.

    It looks like rapid progress, to me. I don’t think we can rest on our laurels, but contrast that to almost any other historical figure, and I think it’s immense.

  4. liberalgeek says:

    When Kennedy proposed the civil rights act, Martin Luther King supported the legislation, despite the fact that it didn’t go far enough. Dr. King saw that sometimes you must make smaller steps, rather than large steps.

    Malcolm X urged African Americans to reject the legislation because it didn’t go far enough. He wanted to kill the bill.

    I’m glad that LBJ pushed it through and made progress that we have been able to build on.

    Also, Ted Kennedy tells a story about this speech in his memoir. He says that Dr. King was wrapping the speech. Mahalia Jackson shouted to him, “Tell them about your dream, Martin!” It was only then that he started his I had a dream portion of the speech. I listened closely to the video and see no evidence of that. But there is some evidence that it has been edited down, so watching it live may differ from this pre-recorded version…

  5. I put this quote on my Facebook page:

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.

    Change is hard work, and it can’t be done by just one person. I’m very put out with progressives who seem to be giving up at the first setback. Did they think it would be easy?

  6. anon says:

    When Kennedy proposed the civil rights act, Martin Luther King supported the legislation, despite the fact that it didn’t go far enough. Dr. King saw that sometimes you must make smaller steps, rather than large steps.

    Malcolm X urged African Americans to reject the legislation because it didn’t go far enough. He wanted to kill the bill.

    It seems any progressive movement requires a fringe extremist group to succeed. The threat of violent revolution tends to concentrate Congress’s mind most wonderfully.

    The New Deal was passed with very credible Communist and Socialist revolutionary activism. And while Dr. King was preaching non-violence, Malcolm X was preaching that white people were the Devil and black people should protect themselves “by any means necessary.” We now understand Dr. King to be preaching non-violence, but at the time, in the minds of white folks the non-violence wasn’t a sure thing at all.

    Compromise is the art of steering between two extremes. If the center-left is constantly mocking its extremists as “purists,” then we will always be steering between the far right and the center-left.

  7. liberalgeek says:

    So are you suggesting that Dr. King did not mean what he said? He cautioned quite deliberately against the violent extremists, urging non-violence. Dr. King certainly thought that violence was fringe and that Malcolm X was a purist.

  8. anon says:

    The New Deal was passed with very credible Communist and Socialist revolutionary activism.

    Sorry, that wasn’t clear. I meant the New Deal was passed as a more palatable alternative to the demands of the Communists and Socialists, to defuse the social unrest they represented.

    Similar issues with the Civil Rights Act… I think the hearts and minds of the country were more engaged and supportive of the Civil Rights Act, but the militancy and implicit threat of violent social unrest was very much present in 1964.

  9. anon says:

    I think Dr. King and Malcom X both meant exactly what they said. The legislation steered somewhere between them.

    I’m glad that LBJ pushed it through and made progress that we have been able to build on.

    Progress which came after the cities burned in 1968.

  10. anon says:

    I think Dr. King and Malcom X both meant exactly what they said. The legislation steered somewhere between them.

    Actually, (correcting myself again) the legislation didn’t steer between them, it fell short of what Dr. King wanted. But without the growing presence of Malcolm X and other militants, I don’t think the bill would have gone even that far.

  11. nemski says:

    I want to now why it took almost ten years for MLK to end Jim Crow?! Obviously he really didn’t want to change those laws.

  12. anon says:

    I want to now why it took almost ten years for MLK to end Jim Crow?!

    Because we hadn’t yet elected a President willing to push the legislation through Congress.

    (Well, actually we did, but he got shot so we had to try again).

    Jim Crow laws were being struck down piecemeal long before MLK began his activism.

    You may as well ask why it took Reagan 45 years to end the Cold War.

  13. cassandra_m says:

    It seems any progressive movement requires a fringe extremist group to succeed. The threat of violent revolution tends to concentrate Congress’s mind most wonderfully.

    And here we have the revisionism Writ Large. Malcolm X and the other militants were not seem by the larger world as “revolutionaries”. They were seen as upstart thugs and potential criminals. Malcolm X and the other militants had credibility and currency within the African American community almost elusively, unlike Dr. King. And why shouldn’t he? It wasn’t as though Malcolm X had the same platform as Dr. King did, anyway. And even there, the promise of some violent revolution was largely fantasy. But the threat that anyone outside of the African American community may have felt from Malcolm X or the other militants was a highly racialized one — and not felt as an imputus to much of anything besides come down really hard on these communities.

    ObBook — Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters magisterial history of the Civil Rights movement.

  14. anon says:

    Cass, we all know that fear does not need to have a rational basis to be a factor in politics.

    I was a child at the time and not politically aware. But within my white family and my all-white school and neighborhood, I felt the fear of black violence and heard it on the news. And we were not a racist family; my parents were JFK voters. I never heard the N-word at home and I was taught respect for other races.

    I’m claiming that black militancy and community unrest was an ever-present factor motivating Congress to pass civil rights legislation. After the cities burned in 1968 it is hard to argue otherwise.

  15. cassandra_m says:

    Fear as a motivating factor for Americans to do the right thing would be unique. If fear had motiviated pols to do the right thing, then Richard Nixon would not have been able to capitalize on the same fears to entrench persistent fear and loathing of black and brown people as a motivation for people to vote for repubs. Because if the pols were doing what people wanted then that fear would no longer be accessible to them, right?

    The larger society did not treat the presence of Malcolm X or the Black Panthers or anything else as a motivation to include black people more completely in the civic space. It was largely the revolution that Dr. King ran — and he did run the last American Revolution — that forced America to include black people more fully in its promise. Idolizing the business of violent revolution definitely is not in the spirit of this day commemorating Dr. King. Because while Malcolm X is a hero in his own right, the legacy of Dr. King is in the real promise of American Revolution — getting your government to live up to its own promises without pointing a gun at it. Everyone wants to remember Dr. King as only a visionary who gave great speeches. He was the true American revolutionary AND worthy of being a Founding Father for what he was able to accomplish for so very many.

    OBBook — really, you should read the Taylor Branch books.

  16. anonone says:

    Anon is right. The same is true for Gandhi’s non-violent movement in India. The real threat of a sustained and hard-to-control violent popular uprising is what ultimately forces an entrenched power to strike a bargain with non-violent leaders of social change.

    Watch what happens in Iran. As long as the leaders feel that they can stifle and control any violent opposition, they will not bargain with the non-violent political leaders.

    I am not saying this is right, it is just the way it is.

  17. nemski says:

    If, what anon and A1 is true that violent groups evoke fear to make social change, then why did Jim Crow ever get changed? After all, Southern whites and the KKK were quite violent and even more deadly with their actions then black militants.

    Evoking violence to get social change is just infantile.

  18. Brooke says:

    Not to mention a little, um, dismissive of Dr. King’s work and message.

    Like the Nobel committee sat around saying, “If we don’t just randomly hand this award to MLK, those American Panthers might start setting Stockholm on fire.”

  19. anonone says:

    Different situations, nemski. What I am saying is that if you scratch the surface of any successful modern non-violent movement you will see there was a potentially violent faction ready to fill the leadership vacuum if the peaceful movement failed.

  20. anonone says:

    Not being dismissive at all, Brooke. Dr. King is a huge hero of mine, as is Gandhi. Without leaders like them, the path to civil rights would have been a lot more violent.

  21. anon says:

    What I am saying is that if you scratch the surface of any successful modern non-violent movement you will see there was a potentially violent faction ready to fill the leadership vacuum if the peaceful movement failed.

    What A1 said.

    Malcom, Stokely, and the Panthers didn’t WANT civil rights legislation. They wanted war and separation.

  22. Brooke says:

    You can’t establish a causal relationship between the existence of violent groups and progress on civil rights. Exxon exists at the same time as I clean my kitchen, but I don’t clean my kitchen to prevent Exxon from taking it over. There was plenty of violent rhetoric during 60’s, 70’s feminism but the ERA didn’t pass.

  23. A. price says:

    a1, werent you attacking everyone here for feelings over the WBC teabags? now you say violence is a crucial part of change? make up your mind.

  24. anon says:

    You can’t establish a causal relationship between the existence of violent groups and progress on civil rights.

    The correlation is stronger for the New Deal and the Communist activists. The non-violent work of MLK was a unique factor in that particular movement. As I ackowledged upthread, the civil rights movement was more about hearts and minds than about fear, but the fear was still there. (also it was about North vs. South).

    There is another example that didn’t get much press. During the first Reagan administration, there was a widespread farm foreclosure crisis, due to the high interest rates Volcker imposed to kill inflation. A handful of bankers and local sheriffs were shot by desperete farmers while trying to repossess family farms. Sometimes the farmers turned their guns on themselves and their families.

    After the first few bankers were shot, suddenly interest rates began to come down and farm relief legislation was introduced. I guess it was just a coincidence.

  25. A. price says:

    so what exactly is the point the anons are trying to make here in a thread dedicated to peace? that violence can be the answer? that it should be but it has been? or do they exist simply to contradict everything?

  26. anonone says:

    a.price, I really don’t engage with you because you don’t read or respond to what I actually wrote. Please re-read what I wrote in 12:52 and note that I did not say “violence is a crucial part of change” at all. And then give me some or any examples from history where my observation is incorrect.

  27. A. price says:

    so the threat of violence has been a part of nonviolent factions. tell me how that i so different. or, are you saying those violent factions didn’t have to exist?

  28. cassandra_m says:

    a.price, I really don’t engage with you because you don’t read or respond to what I actually wrote.

    Just highlighting the nerve of our resident liar.

    After the first few bankers were shot, suddenly interest rates began to come down and farm relief legislation was introduced.

    And this, from anon, pretty much confirms that you have a romanticized and highly distorted view of the effects of violence. especially here in the United States of America. If people were so threatened by violence we’d have been long done with the War on Drugs.

    Those who were advocating war and separation had their greatest impacts upon the communities they were speaking to. To white people they were an excuse for more dogs and more guardsmen and more ignoring. The work that Dr. King did — with his massive grassroots movement — is what changed the country. And did it without even a threat.

  29. A. price says:

    i think the greater threat of violence was from the racist south. and the government stood up to these conservative would-be terrorists and rammed new rules down their bigoted throats that was for the good of the entire country. if only this current government cold advocate so nobly on behalf of the uninsured and non wealthy.

  30. I’ve always thought it was pictures and film of peaceful protestors dressed in their Sunday clothes being soaked by fire hoses, attacked by dogs and beaten with clubs by angry-looking men which helped change attitudes.

  31. anonone says:

    cassandra_m, why don’t you drop the name calling? Is that really all you have for people who disagree with you?

    In the last thread that we had a discussion, you accused me of lying on four specific points, and I responded specifically and directly to each of them, clearly providing the facts to back up my points. Your response? Nothing. Nada. Crickets.

    Happy Martin Luther King Day.

  32. Delaware Dem says:

    Anon said: I’m glad that LBJ pushed it through and made progress that we have been able to build on. Progress which came after the cities burned in 1968.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed in 1964, and 1964 came before 1968. The cities burned in 1968 because the good Reverend was killed, not because a Civil Rights Act was not passed yet. I really don’t mind debate and criticism, but I really cannot stand downright ignorance and stupidity supporting criticism.

  33. A. price says:

    all the anony-ninnies here ( like that name calling?) I found your game A1. you make vague comments like

    “The real threat of a sustained and hard-to-control violent popular uprising is what ultimately forces an entrenched power to strike a bargain with non-violent leaders of social change.”

    then when people point out apparent inconsistencies in your logic… like from the WBC thread where you denounce all forms of violent protest, or even discussion of it…. (assuming you are the same person) you use the vagueness of your original comment to take the opposite side of the person challenging you. It is a neat trick, unfortunately it is used by someone who HAS TO disagree with whoever they are talking to regardless of the topic. It is pointless to even try and mention one’s opinions to you, because you don’t actually engage in real debate. you just argue… even if what you are saying is wrong. Kind of like the Bagz.

    it is cool to you to oppose obama, even when you say he should overstep his powers and order non american cruise ships to Haiti….. now that cruise ships are there, of their own choice, what problem the president has no power over are you going to blame him for?

  34. anon says:

    I’d like to thank Ronald Reagan for this holiday.

  35. A. price says:

    a small bone he threw to all the minorities he screwed over for 8 years. of course he might have worried about a violent backlash if he hadn’t right anons?

    keep in mind im not diminishing MLK day with that small bone comment….. but compared to the devastation his administration brought upon poor, mostly black communities, a day off and recognition that was OPPOSED by many of his fellow republicans was not enough. Reagan doesn’t deserve to be in the same thread as MLK.

  36. Delaware Dem says:

    Please.

    Martin Luther King Jr. Day was founded as a holiday promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations.[3] After King’s death, United States Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage.[4] Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive, and that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition (King had never held public office).[4] Soon after, The King Center turned to support from the corporate community and the general public. The success of this strategy was cemented when musician Stevie Wonder released the single “Happy Birthday” to popularize the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. Six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law, termed by a 2006 article in The Nation as “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history.”[3]

    Yes, Reagan signed the official bill creating the holiday, and he deserved credit for that. But when you think of people to thank for this holiday, you first thank Conyers and Unions, among many others, including most importantly Reverend King himself and his loving family. To thank Reagan alone dishonors them.

  37. anonone says:

    a,price: I never said that it was good or bad – it is simply an observation about the dynamics of modern successful non-violent movements.

    My comments in the WBC thread were about denouncing some people here, including you, for threatening and fantasizing about committing violent acts against peaceful non-violent protesters. I think that threatening or fantasizing about committing violent acts against peaceful protesters is always wrong, regardless of how despicable I find their speech.

    It is ironic that you would refer back to that thread here.

  38. John McCain voted against making MLK day a national holiday and I believe Arizona was the last state to adopt it as a holiday.

  39. anonone says:

    Reagan also threatened to veto it until he realized that it would be decisively overridden.

  40. A. price says:

    again, turd-mining your own comments to be able to take an opposite position from everyone else. Like Glenn Beck “just asking questions”
    “im not SAYING the president is a socialist agent who’s real agenda is to destroy america.. im AKSING if he is” Is coy and sort of clever, but your comments would suggest you admit the THREAT of violence can be effective.
    Think of the WBC goers as a part of the broader laws and rules that still discriminate against gays. They agree with current on the book rules that need to be changed. If people who oppose those changes are worried about violence… including their lunatic base, by your own “observations” those laws will change and social progress will be made.

  41. Brooke says:

    I still haven’t seen a causal relationship established. To do that, you’d need examples of social change movements, some of which were successful and some of which were not, and of each some of which had a ‘violent wing” and some of which did not. Then you’d have to demonstrate that there was a correlation (at the least) between the presence of violence and legislation passed to address the inequities.

    AIM would be another example. Despite wide media coverage of “violent Indian activists”, there hasn’t been the same progress towards addressing systemic inequities with First Peoples as there has been with African Americans.

  42. anonone says:

    I don’t care what their position is, a.price, publicly threatening or fantasizing about violent acts against peaceful protesters or public figures is wrong, whether you’re a liberal, conservative, or whatever.

    Obviously, you disagree with me.

  43. A. price says:

    but pointing out that the possibility of violence throughout history has moved the human race in the right direction is…… what exactly?

  44. cassandra_m says:

    cassandra_m, why don’t you drop the name calling? Is that really all you have for people who disagree with you?

    It isn’t name calling to name what is true. Whether you disagree with me or not. Refusing to even engage with the evidence that people provide you that you are wrong on the facts just makes you a *deliberate* liar. When you engage with what people write and the evidence that people provide you, you may escape the label. Until then, you are still a liar. Complaining about a name that you don’t mind assigning to others with even less reason also counts as hypocrisy. Not that you didn’t know that already.

  45. cassandra_m says:

    And Brooke is right here — no one has established a causal relationship between violence and the remediation of social inequities here. AIM is a good example that doesn’t fit and nor does women’s sufferage.

  46. anonone says:

    Brooke,

    The non-violent movements against racial discrimination in the U.S., British Rule in India, and Apartheid in South Africa were all at a tipping point between change and massive violence that the armed powers knew would be a sustained bloodbath. Fortunately, King, Gandhi, and Mandela, respectively, were able to lead non-violent factions that the ruling powers knew they’d have to negotiate with, or else they were going to face huge and violent and sustained uprisings that they knew that they would ultimately lose.

    Look at failed non-violent actions like Tiananmen Square, Burma, and Tibet. The government squashed them with virtual impunity. Why? What is the difference? There was no consequence for them. The non-violent movements had no back-up.

    Watch what is happening in Iran right now. The only way that the Iranian government will make political concessions to the non-violent political opposition is if they believe they won’t be able to control the violence if they don’t. That is why they are clamping down so violently on their citizens right now.

  47. anonone says:

    a.price, it is a discussion about social movements, that’s all.

  48. Brooke says:

    Anonone, I’ve heard your assertions. But they’re no more than that, assertions. And they’re surgical slices from a much larger pie.

    Women’s suffrage in Switzerland. They didn’t get a national vote until 1971. Tell me what “sustained bloodbath” that averted.

  49. anonone says:

    cassandra_m wrote:It isn’t name calling to name what is true

    I answered your charges of lying point-by-point. Anybody can read it. You never responded back.

    And calling me a “liar” is only one example of your silly and haughty name calling.

    I happen have a functioning cardiovascular system; I do the right thing as best I can; and my Mom and Dad were married to each other, so one of your other names for me is a fraud as well.

  50. anonone says:

    Brooke,

    They are observations and opinions, not assertions.

    The great non-violent movements existed as alternatives to violent actions when both were likely routes try to achieve the same end. I think that is one difference.

    So here is the key point – leaders like King, Gandhi, and Mandela were able to lead non-violent movements during times when the threat and potential for violent movements were boiling. I think that is one of the things that makes them so remarkable. King certainly knew that the potential for his followers to become violent was close and ever-present. That he was able to hold a non-violent movement together in the face of the dogs, lynchings, and fire hoses was incredible.

    I think that is why these leaders are referred to, in particular, as “non-violent” leaders – because they successfully lead non-violent movements during very tense times when mass violence was such a likely possibility.

  51. anon says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed in 1964, and 1964 came before 1968.

    I see I am having this discussion with people who learned about the civil rights movement by singing songs about MLK in grade school. The 1964 Act was the movement’s greatest victory. However, the civil rights movement did not begin or end in 1964. The real romanticizers are the people who think MLK sang out “I have a dream” and all of a sudden rainbows and flowers sprouted across the South.

    LG mentioned: I’m glad that LBJ pushed it through and made progress that we have been able to build on. That is what I responded to. It is that additional post-1964 progress that was implemented against the backdrop of growing fringe black militancy and burning cities.

    And I would argue that Affirmative Action and to some extent the Great Society anti-poverty programs were seen as continuation of the civil rights struggle post-1964.

  52. Brooke says:

    But anonone, your argument is an-historical and vague. And kind of Zen, in a weird way. “There is no light without shadow.”

    Those leaders weren’t “called non-violent” because they were compared to Malcom X or whoever. They were philosophically dedicated to non-violence. It was an idea, not the absence of an idea. We always have the choice of violence or non-violence. We also have the choice of justice or injustice. In different places and on different issues, governments have chosen justice, sometimes in the presence of armed conflict, sometimes not. It’s the positive choice for justice that reflects our aspirations, and to minimize it by characterizing it as fear, is to miss the point entirely.

    This was your original statement. “It seems any progressive movement requires a fringe extremist group to succeed. The threat of violent revolution tends to concentrate Congress’s mind most wonderfully.” That statement is wrong.

    And kind of sad, as a viewpoint. :(

  53. anon says:

    anon != anonone

    Brooke != Brookstone

    observation != viewpoint

  54. anonone says:

    Brooke,

    That wasn’t my “original statement” and I disagree with it.

    There are many movements in history where a great non-violent leader failed to emerge and a violent bloodbath or revolution was the result. The miracle of people like Gandhi, King, and Mandela is that they did lead non-violent movements in the face of extreme violence. That is why they are the rare exception.

    I really appreciate this discussion with you, Brooke.

  55. Brooke says:

    Thanks. I have trouble individuating written material, even when signed. :D Pardon my misread.

    I need color-coded hats.