This principle of passive resistance or civil disobedience is credited with winning civil rights for black Americans. No matter what, no protester ever fought back while the Rev. King was alive. To use violence would have nullified everything in which Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi believed.
After a horrific scene in Birmingham, Alabama, in the spring of 1963, during which black demonstrators were attacked with fire hoses, cattle prods and police dogs, President John F. Kennedy, Jr. addressed the nation on television about the issue of civil rights. All through 1963, JFK worked to pass a moderate civil rights bill. President Kennedy was assassinated in November of that year.
After the assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson rode the 1964 Civil Rights Act through Congress. Although codifying civil rights in law was a step in the right direction, Rev. King struggled for four more years until he was assassinated by a sniper on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN.
This month, Martin Luther King, III visited India as his father had done 50 years earlier. He paid homage to Gandhi, voicing a causal link between the teaching of Gandhi, the tools used by Rev. King to free his people, and how Barack Obama was elected President of the USA.
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