In Birmingham Jail in 1963, while under arrest for a non-violent demonstration, Martin Luther King met eight white priests who had recently published the letter ‘A Call for unity’. While the priests did concede the existence of social injustice, they expressed a belief that the battle against segregation should be fought in the courts, not in the streets. Martin Luther’s reply was that without direct and powerful efforts such as the ones he undertook, civil rights would never be achieved. He argued that civil disobedience is justified not only to deal with an unjust law, but that "everyone has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." The letter includes the famous quote "An injustice wherever it is, is a threat to justice everywhere" he also repeats the words of Thurgood Marshall: "A justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
Until the end of his life, Martin Luther King remained against radicalization and violence such as advocated by the Black Power Movement and stresses that "the riots do nothing" and considering this method largely ineffective.
In his doctrine of non-violence Luther writes: "If we say that power is the ability to change or the ability to achieve its objectives, then this is not the power to engage in an act that does not do this." "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a downward spiral, causing the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of weakening evil, it multiplies. Using violence, you can kill the liar, but you cannot kill the lie, nor establish the truth. Using violence, you can kill the hate, but you cannot kill hatred. There hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night without stars. Darkness cannot drive away the darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive hate: only love can do that. "
Non-violence is not only the right thing to do; it is a necessity for any movement looking for real political gains.
Tony Jones a lifelong Rhode Islander, is a local musician, radio host and blogger. He was a 2014 candidate for Lieutenant Governor, running on a platform that advocated for the elimination of the office.
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