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To Fight or Not To Fight: Effects of Nonviolence and Violence on Civil Rights - page 3 / 10





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support of whites, whose extent of support was not fully realized until 1963 with the

March on Washington. This event was one of the first major points in the civil rights

movement. While it did not result in any direct change, it did show the growing support

of whites for the movement. Twenty-five percent of the 200,000-500,000 attendees were

white, which was a surprisingly large amount considering that the march was an event to

petition for equal employment rights and to lobby for the proposed civil rights bill

(Kasher). By this point, nonviolence had aptly served the movement by creating change

at the local level and uniting blacks and some whites in the fight for equality. Yet while

many whites had come around to see the flaws in segregation and racial inequality, many

whites still fought for supremacy, often violently, which did nothing but prompt more

support for the blacks' cause.

While it was painful for many blacks, white resistance to the civil rights

movement was actually beneficial in illustrating the extent of the crisis in America, and

prompted legislative intervention. Prior to the March on Washington, the government of

the state of Alabama illustrated the extent to which Southern segregationists were willing

to defy national law in order to maintain segregation. In June of 1963, Governor Wallace

of Alabama personally pledged to oppose the integration of the University of Alabama,

even though to do so conflicted with the federal law set up in the Brown v. Board of

Education case. Wallace refused to admit black students into the school, prompting

President Kennedy to take a firmer stance for civil rights (Kennedy 77-78). In an address

to Congress, Kennedy declared that “we face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as

a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased

demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is time to act

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