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Martin Luther King Jr. , who provided valuable guidance to blacks who struggled to obtain the civil rights and liberties that were denied to them by white majority population. In this context, philosophy of non violence was used by Martin Luther King. This strategy, in the end, proved a great success as by the end of 1960 decade the American government granted civil liberties to black population. Philosophy of non violence was already used by the leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi in India during the first half of 20th century.

Martin Luther King was obviously influenced by the strategies such as civil disobedience and non cooperation, and these strategies were used in the struggle of blacks against the governments which denied the black civil liberties. During the period between 1956 and 1966, there were many struggles between blacks and racist white population particularly in the southern states where importance was given to segregation of blacks from the public institutions.

In the context of the cold war era, non violent strategy obtains special significance as black leaders did not imitate the policy of violent confrontation that prevailed between the two major blocs. The US and the Communist blocks invested huge amount of time and money in strengthening their respective military forces. Their activities threatened world peace and security, as real war between the two blocs would have resulted in enormous problems for the people of the world.

In this context, non violent struggles of black leaders obtains special significance as these struggles showed that by using non violent means it is possible to achieve the political and social aims. Martin Luther King criticized the US government for waging war against Vietnam during the cold war years. This indicates the courage that King possessed while expressing his views concerning the American policy in the world politics.

Martin Luther King believed in the philosophy of non violence because he was convinced that non violent struggle was the best method of fighting against the segregationist policy found in the southern states. He expected that non violent struggle against racism in the southern states would obtain media coverage including newspapers and television. The journalists reported the persecution of the black civil rights activists who fought against Jim Crow laws that persisted in the southern states.

This strategy succeeded in creating widespread public sympathy for the civil rights movement which became the most important issue of public discussion. The newspaper reports showed that black civil right activists who did not use violent methods were harassed by the administrators in the southern states. This justified the non violent means used by the leaders such as Martin Luther King. (King 2001) After founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King used the non violent means in the struggle for black civil rights.

He used Mahatma Gandhi’s non violent ideas in forcing the authorities to withdraw anti black laws in Alabama. King also gave the leadership to the black activists in the Montgomery bus boycott movement and many other such movements in Albany, Birmingham, and Florida. He organized marches and assemblies to protest discrimination of blacks in the American society. The stern attitude of the governments of the southern states as reported in the media increased the sympathy of the public towards black civil rights movement. King also played an important role in organizing the march to Washington in 1965.

In the year 1966, the government was forced to introduce the civil rights act which assured most of the civil rights to black population. (King 2001) The above details show that non violent means were successful in achieving the goals of black leaders and organizations. However, ironically Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968 in spite of the fact that he propagated non violence throughout his life.


(2001). Martin Luther King Jr. Gale Group Inc. Available at <http://www. africawithin. com/bios/martin_luther_king. htm> Accessed on 22 June 2006.

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