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Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is the active, public, conscientious breach of the
law to bring about a change in law or public policy. Henry David
Thoreau coined the term in 1848 in his essay about his refusal as an
abolitionist to pay the poll tax. Thoreau argued that citizens ought
deliberately to break laws that conflict with their moral beliefs.
Gandhi used nonviolent civil disobedience to protest racial pass laws
in South Africa and in India’s independence struggle, including
the famous Salt March against the British monopoly on salt. Dr. King
and others made civil disobedience a cornerstone of the Civil Rights
Movement, defying Jim Crow laws through sit-ins, violating laws and
court orders prohibiting marches and boycotts, and accepting jail
sentences to highlight racial injustice. In his Letter from Birmingham
Jail, King explains the moral arguments for civil disobedience and
distinguishes between just and unjust laws.

Associated Archive Content : 134 results

MLK Statement Regarding an Attack on the First Amendment

Dr. King addresses violations of First Amendment Rights in this statement regarding the events at Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

MLK to Confer in June to Plan Summer Drive Here

Referencing Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Bob Modic wrote about an upcoming meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. This meeting was in preparation for the implementation of a campaign to increase employment and housing opportunities for the city's African Americans.

MSGR. Victor G. Moser's Statements Relating to Selma-Montgomery March

Victor G. Moser recounts the activities that took place during the march on Montgomery ,which was one of a serious, dedicated, even religious commitment to a project which would really bring out the serious injustice being perpetrated upon a persecuted and disadvantaged people.

News/Letter: Atlanta Workshop in Nonviolence

Here is a 1967 newsletter from the Atlanta Workshop in Nonviolence, covering a number of topics including the Vietnam War, the March on Washington, fascism, and non-violent tactical plans.

Non-Violent Procedures to Inter-Racial Harmony

In this early speech to a NY Universalists' convention, Dr. King lays out his nonviolence method, based on Gandhi's. He outlines five of the six principles he will use later. They are: active, courageous resistance; winning the moral conversion of the opponent, not defeating him; attacking the forces of evil, rather than the persons doing evil; using love to avoid "internal violence of the spirit"; and faith in the inclination of the universe towards justice.

One Vote for Every Man: Civil Rights Act

In this draft of an article for the March 1965 IUD Agenda, an AFL-CIO monthly publication, Dr. King recounts the progress made by the Civil Rights Movement and states that the issue in 1965 is the right to vote and the venue is Selma, Alabama. He discusses the pattern of exclusion, including the abuse of power by local sheriffs, illegal use of local and state laws, delay tactics of registrars, and literacy tests. He outlines measures that a Civil Rights Act of 1965 should include.

Outline of MLK's 1962 Address to NAACP

In Dr. King's handwriting, this outline is from a speech he later addressed to the NAACP, at its 53rd Annual Convention in Atlanta, GA.

Pamphlet About the Black Panther Party

This pamphlet contains historical and contextual references to the Black Panther Party. It also includes a speech by John Hulett and an interview of Stokely Carmichael highlighting the political and social movements occurring in Lowndes County, Alabama.

Press Release and Interview from Radio Norway

Dr. King addresses the press the day before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in a statement from Radio Norway.

Publication on Civil Disobedience

This document on civil disobedience is an occasional paper that includes articles from the legal, philosophical, historical and political science perspective. Throughout the paper there are pieces on Gandhi, Thoreau and Martin Buber; all of whom influenced Dr. King.

Report of A Participant

This report illustrates the authors concern and outlook on the Vietnam war.

Response from MLK to Paul Yeiter

Dr. King responds to Yeiter's questioning of his support of plans to boycott the 1968 Olympic games. Dr. King argues that Negro athletes have presented specific and reasonable demands to the Olympic Committee, which reflects a valid concern for the social welfare and progress of the whole nation. He commends these athletes for their determination and courageous stand against racism and injustice.

Rio Grande Farm Workers Bulletin

This bulletin describes the difficulty that migrant farm laborers have encountered forming organizations to improve economic conditions.

SCLC Newsletter, July-August 1964

This 1964 SCLC newsletter addresses nearly all if not all topics related to the Civil Rights Movement of the era.

SCLC Newsletter: October-November 1965

This SCLC newsletter depicts the courage of SCLC workers putting their lives on the line while fighting for civil rights. The newsletter also highlights pictures from SCLC's ninth annual convention in Birmingham Alabama and a children's book about Dr. King.

SCLC President's Report - MLK

Delivered at the Tenth Annual Convention of the SCLC, Dr. King presents the annual report for the organization. King addresses several elements of the Civil Rights Movement as he discusses the successes, plans, goals, and vision of the SCLC in relation to the wider movement it represents.

SCLC Retreat November 1967

Reverend Andrew Young discusses civil disobedience at the SCLC's retreat in South Carolina. Dr. King and Jesse Jackson also make presentations at the retreat. Jesse Jackson states "we are too conscious of philosophy" and mentions "what's significant to the people is jobs or income." Dr. King talks about upcoming projects that will involve civil disobedience.

SCLC Warns of Disaster in Mississippi

The SCLC issues a statement regarding a fire that destroyed their office at the Bell Flower Baptist Church in Grenada, Mississippi. The SCLC set up a new office in Grenada to continue programs including school integration, voter registration, and development of community leadership.

SCLC: MLK Still Most Influential Negro According to Studies

The SCLC issues a news release stating that Dr. King is the most influential Negro leader in America. Dr. King, along with other prominent members of the SCLC, was serving a five-day jail sentence in Birmingham, Alabama at the time of the news release.

SCLC: Summary Of Ninth Annual Convention

This summary of the SCLC's Ninth Annual Convention describes events that were instrumental in the formation of the organization. The document outlines the ongoing projects of the organization and offers proposals for future efforts.

Spring Mobilization Background Material

The Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam announces Dr. King as its speaker for their April 15 march. In addition, this document offers background information on the conflict in Vietnam.

Stanford University Faculty and Staff Pledge of Civil Disobedience

The Faculty and Staff members of Stanford University make a pledge of civil disobedience to protest the Vietnam conflict. The individuals signing the pledge request members of the clergy and academic community with like sentiments to join them in this demonstration.

Stars for Freedom 1967

This magazine highlights celebrities who have contributed to the Civil Rights Movement as well as the contributions of SCLC and other programs across America. Featured in the article is statement by SCLC President, Dr. King.

Statement by MLK on the U.S. Stand in Vietnam

Dr. King discusses how to involve the public in discussions regarding the Vietnam War. He states that the public should be educated about the history and issues of the war.

Suggestions for Survival During Period of Prolonged Civil Disorder

This document contains a list of tips and suggested supplies for survival during a period of civil disorder, including specific food items and tools. The document recommends stockpiling enough supplies to survive for at least one month without needing to leave your home.

Teacher's Manual: Civil Disobedience, Morality, and the Coming of the Civil War

Muriel Moulton of Chicago, Illinois provides a course manual for teaching civil disobedience and morality leading up to the American Civil War. Moulton does not assign a value to the morality of civil disobedience, but only poses the question while providing primary sources for interpretation.

Telegram Called in From Attorney General Nicholas Deb Katzenbach to MLK

Katzenbach responds to an urgent telegram from Dr. King concerning State Troopers that had trapped Demonstrators inside a church and refused to let them obtain medical attention. Katzenbach tells Dr. King that he is aware of the situation and that the Department Attorneys and the FBI were already on the scene in both Selma and Marion and investigations had already begun.

Telegram from Charles Cogen to MLK

Charles Cogen, President of the American Federation of Teachers, writes Dr. King a note expressing that there is national shame because Dr. King is in jail for defending constitutional rights. He also informs Dr. King that they are making their outrage known publicly.

Telegram from Delmer Brown to MLK

Due to recent student activities at the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Brown requests Dr. King's involvement in a lecture series devoted to discussing issues concerning civil disobedience.

Telegram from Memphis Sanitation Workers' to MLK

Members of the Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike express an urgent need for Dr. King to travel to Memphis in order to aid them in their crusade.

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