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To Fight or Not To Fight: Effects of Nonviolence and Violence on Civil Rights - page 1 / 10





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To Fight or Not To Fight: Effects of Nonviolence and Violence on Civil Rights

Following the end of World War II, there was increased dissatisfaction amongst

blacks about their status in American society. Immediately following the war, blacks

questioned how they were treated when they saw how they had been respected as equal

human beings in Europe, but were treated as nothings in their own homeland. Unrest

increased throughout the 1950s when blacks saw how whites were managing to climb the

socioeconomic ladder with the help of government integration programs for white

veterans, yet few, if any, of these programs extended to blacks as well. Many black

veterans had expected more help from their government, and seeing the preferential

treatment towards whites just added to this agitation; until starting in the late 1950s and

exploding throughout the 1960s, the civil rights movement picked up pace (Cloward 194-

198, 204-6, 209). In a time where race relations were highly delicate, the means with

which activists used to achieve their goals would have a significant impact on the success

of their efforts. Nonviolent protest was the more socially approved and effective method

for achieving the goals of the civil rights movement; however resistance and violence

were powerful influences as well. While violence instigated by whites often facilitated

progress by prompting legal action, violence by black leaders often served as set backs.

During the early development of the civil rights movement, the use of nonviolent

techniques were integral in generating public support and creating change at the local

level. The concept of using nonviolent protest in the movement was initially developed

by Martin Luther King Jr., who after studying Gandhi's efforts in the fight for Indian

independence, learned that the best way to gain the support of the general public was to

appeal to their sense of sympathy. “'Blacks must endure violent attacks by bigots without

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