Nonviolent Protests: An argumentative essay

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From the Boston Tea Party of 1773, the Civil Rights Movement and the Pro-Life Movement of the 1960s, to the Tea Party Movement and Occupy Wall Street Movement of current times, “those struggling against unjust laws have engaged in acts of deliberate, open disobedience to government power to uphold higher principles regarding human rights and social justice” (DeForrest, 1998, p. 653) through nonviolent protests. Perhaps the most well-known of the non-violent protests are those associated with the Civil Rights movement. The movement was felt across the south, yet Birmingham, Alabama was known for its unequal treatment of blacks and became the focus of the Civil Rights Movement. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., president of …show more content…
It was during these demonstrations that the Birmingham Police Department, under the leadership of Eugene “Bull” Connor, used forceful measures such as using high-pressured water jets and police dogs in hopes of stopping the demonstrations. These clergymen believed that Birmingham’s extreme measures were justified and they too urged the African American community to withdraw their demonstrations. King responded to the eight clergymen with his letter from the Birmingham jail.
King (1963) immediately strives to justify the need for nonviolent direct action through his statement, “Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary.” What is direct action? Direct action is a form of political activism which may include sit-ins, strikes, and demonstrations (Haines, 1984). King's explanation to the clergymen for protesting segregation began with an explanation of their actions, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue”. In this case King was invoking the right of freedom of expression, not only freedom of speech but the freedom to assemble. The clergy and many of the citizens of Birmingham believed the demonstrations, sit-ins, and strikes, considered peaceful by King…