Over the course of human history there have been countless instances of conflict. Whether it’s war, social injustice, oppression or territorial disputes, these conflicts have been solved in many different ways. Even though there are myriad ways to resolve a conflict, it’s non-violent protest that can achieve the greatest success in the long run. Not only do assemblies or protests of support focus attention on a problem or cause, they can achieve their ends without bloodshed.
The right to assemble is guaranteed in many countries, but it is no less important in those countries where it is outlawed. Assemblies of protest and support have been seen throughout the course of history, in almost every country on the planet. In the United Sates, for example, the right to assemble is guaranteed under the first amendment.
Assemblies of protest and support are as much a part of American history and the country’s character as anything else. Over the years there have been countless non-violent displays of protest, from sit-ins to teach-ins to labor protests to political demonstrations to everything else under the sun. And the civil rights movement of the 1960s was deeply rooted in the ideals of nonviolent protest.
Like many other leaders in nonviolent movements, Dr. Martin Luther King based his philosophy on that of another revolutionary: Ghandi. It was Ghandi’s success using nonviolent means to defeat the British that inspired DR. King to use these tactics in the African American’s struggle for equality.
When DR. King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967, it was with the intent of providing a forum for people to learn how to use nonviolence in their struggle for equality. This led all the way to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and what became the site of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The march was the largest political rally that had ever been staged in the United States. The official estimates place the amount of participants in the 200-300,000 range. The purpose was not only to advocate equal rights for African Americans, but to also advocate racial harmony and nonviolence.
There are countless other examples of nonviolent assemblies and protests, not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. Large and peaceful demonstrations and movements serve to highlight injustice while rising above the worse angels of human natures, such as the desire for violence and revenge. Nonviolent protests will be as much a part of future generations of humanity as it has been for its past generations.
Continue reading the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.