Civil Rights Era DBQ: Was Non-violent civil disobedience more successful than violence?
Civil Disobedience DBQ:
What forms of civil disobedience were effective tools in ending segregation? Was nonviolence more effective than violence in achieving civil rights for African Americans?
During the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr., advocated the use of civil disobedience to end segregation in the South. What forms of civil disobedience were effective tools in ending segregation? Was nonviolence more effective than violence in achieving civil rights for African Americans?
Use your knowledge of the postwar era, and documents A, B, C, and D to answer the questions at the bottom and the essential question below.
“…Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they out to wait until they havbe persuaded the majority to alterthem. They thik that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy IS worse than the evil. It makes it wose. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and privide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alrt to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849
“The only time I hear people talk about nonviolence is when black people move to defend themselves against white people,,,, White people beat up black people every day- Don’t nobody talk about nonviolence. But as soon as black people start to move, the double standard comes into being…We are on the move for our liberation… We are concerned with getting the things we want, the things that we have to be able to function… The question is, Will white people overcome their racism and allow for that to happen in this country? If that does not happen, brothers, and sisters, we have no choice but to say very clearly, “Move over, or we’re going to move on over you.”
- - Stokely Carmichael speech, 1966
“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro… If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides- and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people” “Get rid of your discontent”. Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action.”
- - Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963
1. Which document advocates the use of violence if racism against African Americans is not ended? Explain
2. According to Document D, how does Martin Luther King Jr., describe demonstrations such as freedom rides?
3. According to document A, what does Thoreau think about the role of government in addressing unjust laws?
4. Writing Task: What do you think about the role of government depicted in Document C? How does that image contrast with the ideas of King, Thoreau, and Carmichael? Use your knowledge of the era content and from the primary sources above to support your opinion.