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To Fight or Not To Fight: Effects of Nonviolence and Violence on Civil Rights - page 7 / 10





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whites eyes, because it did nothing but validate previously false conceptions that blacks

were excessively violent. Such views were further reinforced with speeches such as one

by H. Rap Brown, an SNCC leader, delivered in 1967 in Maryland, which was filled with

violent overtures, and later blamed for inciting the riot that ensued after he finished his

speech. While he was never convicted for inciting the riot, speeches such as Brown's

were responsible for the passage of legislature such as the 1968 Brown Amendment,

which made it illegal to cross state boundaries to incite a riot (Brown 90, 92-95). In this

way, those unsatisfied with the pace of the nonviolent campaign who chose to speed

things up by resorting to more violent tactics ending up providing set backs for the

movement as a whole. It served to divide civil rights leaders into two separate factions

with contradicting ideology, which reduced the effectiveness of both sides, since they

only had command of half the manpower. Black violence undermined the effectiveness

of blacks as a whole, both in the legal scope and that of public opinion.

Nonviolent means of protest were more beneficial in achieving the goals of the

civil rights movement. It was vital in changing the opinions whites had of blacks, and

caused a dramatic increase in the amount of whites supporting the civil rights cause.

Especially with segregationist whites who used violent means to try to counteract blacks

civil protest, such tactics did nothing more than to increase sympathy for blacks in all

humane people, by illustrating the true extent to the issue. By emphasizing how harmless

the nonviolent protesters were, white retaliation and violence helped to speed up the

process with which change regarding race relations took place at the legislative level. The

pace of these developments was not rapid enough for some blacks, who turned to more

violent measures to pursue their goals, but in doing so, they reduced the overall

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