Rep John Lewis on Peaceful Protest

Apparently Rush Limbaugh made a statement that armed marchers of the Civil Rights Movement would have not been physically assaulted during “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He said African Americans, but if I recall my history correctly there were a Caucasian Americans there who were also assaulted. Perhaps armed marchers might not have been struck with weapons by police. Though there were definitely guns present on the police side as you can see in this FBI photograph of the event. If the people intended to attack are armed with guns, then the attackers use their guns not batons. Bull Conner knew shooting unarmed marchers would go too far. Armed CRM marchers would have invited a massacre. Unarmed peaceful protesters getting attacked by armed police attain the sympathy of the general public who shift more strongly to the side of the protesters. If the CRM marchers had been armed, then like all the failed rebellions of the past, almost no children or adults today would know anything about them. Certainly there would be no Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Because we as Americans do not celebrate those we deem as fomenting insurrections. There is no Nat Turner Day. (Okay Southerners do celebrate Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis, but they view Lincoln as the leader of the rebellion.)

Here is Rep John Lewis’ statement on what Limbaugh said.

Our goal in the Civil Rights Movement was not to injure or destroy but to build a sense of community, to reconcile people to the true oneness of all humanity,” said Rep. John Lewis.  “African Americans in the 60s could have chosen to arm themselves, but we made a conscious decision not to.  We were convinced that peace could not be achieved through violence.  Violence begets violence, and we believed the only way to achieve peaceful ends was through peaceful means.  We took a stand against an unjust system, and we decided to use this faith as our shield and the power of compassion as our defense.

And that is why this nation celebrates the genius and the elegance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and philosophy.  Through the power of non-violent action, Dr. King accomplished something that no movement, no action of government, no war, no legislation, or strategy of politics had ever achieved in this nation’s history.  It was non-violence that not only brought an end to legalized segregation and racial discrimination, but Dr. King’s peaceful work changed the hearts of millions of Americans who stood up for justice and rejected the injury of violence forever.

The philosophy of “violence begets violence” goes back to the Gospel of Matthew, “Then said Jesus unto him [Peter], Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Attaining the moral high ground is difficult as an armed mob.

It was curious to see Limbaugh make the case that African Americans should be armed. Usually the arguments I see regarding the need to for guns as protection are to protect themselves from those nasty criminal African Americans who all have illegal guns.

Source of the photo above is the Library of Congress.

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  • http://oakritchie.wordpress.com oakritchie

    Hey brother, there was an abrupt end at “we” before the first quote in the post…I’d like to know that conclusion.

    Awesome post! Good call…

    • http://www.ezrasf.com/ Ezra S F

      Sorry about that. I started a thought on celebrating rebellions, looked up rebellions in the US, worked on the end, and forgot to complete it. Added it:

      Because we as Americans do not celebrate those we deem as fomenting insurrections. There is no Nat Turner Day. (Okay Southerners do celebrate Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis, but they view Lincoln as the leader of the rebellion.)

  • http://www.ezrasf.com/ Ezra S F

    We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

    As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

    Martin Luther King, Jr

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