What Made Non Violence Work

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Gandhi and Mandela: What Made Non-Violence Work?

Background Essay The history of violence in the world is well documented. However it is also possible to use non-violence to bring about change. This DBQ will look at two countries where a non-violent movement was successful.

Historic Context India and South Africa were two important nations on two different continents. But although they looked strong on the outside, each one suffered from a disease that threatened the health of the whole. For India, the disease was colonization. For South Africa, it was racial segregation.

Three Conditions In each of these nations three conditions help explain why non-violence worked. The first condition was that both of them
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This was the first time, though not the last, that
Mandela felt disrespected for his blackness.

In the 1930’s it was rare for a black South African to attend college. But Mandela not only attended, he graduated, got a degree from law school, and set up a practice in Johannesburg which he hoped could support his small family. Yet apartheid was always a humiliation to him. When the Afrikaner, or Dutch South African, Nationalists came to power in the 1948 election, the segregation habits of the past three hundred years became law. Hoping for a brighter future, Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) and became its first Youth Leader.

In the 1960s, many of the colonial nations of Africa were gaining independence. The ANC was encouraged and campaigned for democracy in South Africa. They were mild campaigns at first, but as the government became more hostile, so did ANC protests. In November 1961, a military branch of the party was organized with Mandela as its head. It authorized the limited use of arms and sabotage against the government, which got the government’s attention—and its anger! Mandela went into hiding in 1964, he was captured, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. It was a sad day for black South Africa.

As days stretched to months, months to years,
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