Montgomery, a southern city in the USA, in 1955. African Americans, who make up the majority of the population, are being treated as second class citizens. Because of the so-called Jim Crow laws they have to use separate restrooms, restaurants and schools. In the city buses, ‘colored’ people can only use the rear seats. In the event that the ‘white’ portion of the bus is full, they have to make room.
One day Rosa Parks takes the bus after a long day at work. She is not only a seamstress but also the secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. When she is summoned to give up her seat to a white passenger, it is one time too many. In her own words, she is “tired of giving in”. She remains seated, is arrested and unleashes the civil rights movement that will lead to the end of the Jim Crow laws.
The black community organizes a boycott of the buses; People walk en masse to work and develop a carpool system. Martin Luther King Jr., at the time a relatively unknown Baptist minister, is chosen as the leader of the boycott.
Martin Luther King only wanted to use nonviolent tactics, following the biblical message and examples like Gandhi. In the book that King wrote about the Montgomery boycott — Stride Toward Freedom — he lists six characteristics of nonviolence. Because tomorrow is the international day of nonviolence, I would like to share this list with you.
- Turning the other cheek is not cowardly or passive, but requires courage and is an act of resistance.
- Nonviolence seeks to win the friendship and understanding of the opponent.
- It fights against evil, not against evildoers.
- If you are committed to nonviolence, you have to be prepared to suffer without retaliation. This kind of surrering can educate and transform. (No empty words from this man!)
- Hate is also a form of violence. Nonviolent actions are motivated by love. See the quote above.
- Nonviolence believes that justice will eventually win and that God is a God of justice.
Slightly off-topic: Martin Luther King is also mentioned in the below video about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. They have arrived!
All that remains for me is to wish everyone a nonviolent day.