Nationwide protests are a logical outcome of the recent seemingly unprovoked attacks on black people by police.  But in too many cases, these protests have become violent.  This violence diminishes the impact of the protests and takes the focus away from the purpose of the protests in the first place.

This generation of protesters should explore the history of non-violent protests during the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s.  By refusing to be baited by those who wanted us to “mind our own business,” we ended up winning some major battles.

I remember my involvement in helping blacks getting registered to vote in southern Illinois in the late 60’s.  When confronted by those who disagreed with us, we held our

civilrights

The epitome of non-violent protests

ground and sang songs (“I shall not be moved” was a personal favorite) as we were hit with axe handles and had urine thrown in our faces.  We were taught to shield our bodies as best we could, but not to strike back.  Even as the German Shepherds dragged us to the police cars where we were arrested for “disturbing the peace,” we continued to sing and never once tried to strike back.

Looking back on that time, I believe to this day that we made a difference – and that this would have been diminished if we struck back.  Today’s protests will be far more effective if the protesters are non violent – no matter what the provocation may be.

Like a tree that’s planted by the water
I shall not be moved.

 

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