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Social Changes and Civil Rights Essay

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2019

Nonviolence

Martin Luther King is a renowned civil rights activist who used a nonviolence approach to achieve social change in America (King 42). King understood the predicament of the black people in America, but also understood the importance of peace for all races. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, King resorted to a civil right movement that protested against racial discrimination.

The nonviolence approach included boycotts to social amenities and industrial strikes. King is known for his role in the infamous Montgomery bus boycott. Apparently, black people were not allowed to access the front row seats in a bus. This social injustice was a common occurrence in Montgomery, Alabama.

A nonviolence boycott of this injustice led to changing of the infamous rules, and black people were able to integrate with the rest of the people in social places. King beseeched his fellow black people to integrate with white people in the pursuit for social justice. King argued that black people success was bound to that of the white people. In fact, the success of nonviolence approach led to enactment of civil and voting rights acts in 1965 and 1964 respectively.

Advantages and disadvantages of nonviolence

The advantage of using nonviolence is that the approach justifies the moral behavior and philosophy of its proponents. Nonviolence is usually perceived to be an integral aspect of a country’s moral foundation. Nonviolence can be used as a way of life by its proponents as it preserves life and safeguards social values.

However, nonviolence is sometimes abused by its proponents when they mix elements of violence as a defense mechanism. Sometimes, nonviolence tactics are used to provoke violence. In addition, people resent participating in strikes and peaceful demonstrations. King’s approach was heavily criticized and undermined as ineffective by Malcolm X.

Violence and black militancy

The use of violence and black militancy was advocated by the Malcolm X. Violence as a tool for advancing social and civil rights involved taking up weapons and fighting as a defense mechanism (Malcolm X 139). Malcolm X understood the plight of the black Americans in terms of socio-economic aspects.

Besides languishing in poverty, descendants of black slaves were poor and discriminated in a society that was progressing economically and politically. Black people were neglected by the government that never provided security. In this context, black people who resisted the white man rule were killed, tortured and their homes were burned.

According to Malcolm X, the only way to preserve the dignity of the black men was through rebellion. Malcolm X idea of violence and black militancy led to the creation of the cultural nationalism. Cultural nationalism focused on liberating black people from white people. This led to isolation and segregation of the blacks from the whites. Resistance to this segregation led to killing of members from either party.

Preservation of the black man culture was of importance since the white man was an oppressor and resented black culture. The main objective of violence and black militancy was to secure jobs for its people and end social conflict between the black and white people. Malcolm X’s philosophy also considered freedom and voting rights. Malcolm X preferred self-defense against police brutality, and self-governance.

Advantages and disadvantages of violence and black militancy.

The advantage of violence and black militancy is that it can be used as the last resort if all nonviolent means fail. Sometimes, violence evokes a need to intervene and understand the cause of the problem. However, violence is destructive and distorts the meaning of social and civil rights.

Moreover, violence and acts of cultural nationalism promote hatred among people of different races. National healing and reconciliation are ineffective, when the impact of violence is horrendous. Sometimes, acts of violence lead to genocide as evidenced in countries like Kosovo and Rwanda.

Feminism

Feminism is a renowned approach in realizing social and civil rights. Sojourner Truth is a renowned activist who used feminism to advocate for women’s rights. During her time, racism and gender discrimination against women was not protected by the constitution. In this regard, she rebelled against the constitution by voting despite the fact she was a black woman.

When Truth was arrested and aligned in court, she expressed her displeasure with a constitution that does not protect a woman. In her speech called “Ain’t I a Woman”, Truth narrates how she worked like a man yet not respected and treated like a woman. Truth advocates for equality between men and women. Feminism approach appreciates that women are human and are inclined to work and contribute to the society just like men.

Advantages and disadvantages of feminism

The advantage of feminism as an approach to achieving social and civil rights is that it elevates women’s position in the society. Women are now engaging in politics and economic growth of a society. Unlike in historical times, women now have rights to vote, work and influence the society. However, feminism has caused discomfort among men who no longer protect women. Emergence of anti-male ideology has resulted from feminism and promotes sexist concepts.

Works Cited

King, Martin Luther. I have a dream. New York: Random House Children’s Books, 2012. Print.

Malcolm X. “To Mississippi Youth”. Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements. Ed. George Breitman. New York: Ballantine, 1964. 137-146. Print.

Truth, Sojourner. “Ain’t I a woman?“. 1997. Web. <>

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