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Civil Disobedience Essay

1609 words - 6 pages

Student's Last Name 1Coxsom 1Amber CoxsomProfessor IwamizuEnglish 10324 November 2014Civil DisobedienceThesis: The revolutionary ideas advocated by Thoreau and King has been influential in the subsequent social and political movements of Nelson Mandela.I. Henry David ThoreauBeliefsCivil DisobedienceMartin Luther KingCivil Rights MovementLetter from BirminghamNelson MandelaThe fight against the apartheidNon-Violent Peaceful ProtestImprisonmentEfficacyCivil DisobedienceHenry David Thoreau was a great American writer, philosopher, and naturalist of the 1800's who's writings have influenced many famous leaders.Thoreau was a life long abolitionist who believed that government was more harmful than helpful. In his eyes the government was not just a little corupt or unjust but the main agent of corruption and injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican American war. His stance was that these affairs were unjust and immortal and since they were supported and perpetrated by the government, then the government itself was immoral and unjust. Through this concept, Thoreau developed the idea of civil disobedience, the willful and deliberate violation of the law by the individual citizen. (Groiler's Encyclopedia Online 2). Henry Thoreau spent a night in jail after refusing to pay poll taxes, because the money was being used to finance a war and slavery, which he was against. In his essay "Civil Disobedience" he advocated for people of conscience to withdraw their support from the government and its law and exercise their own moral judgement. He wrote that people practicing civil disobedience, break a law because they consider the law unjust. People want to call attention to its injustice. Thoreau voiced civil disobedience as, "An expression of the individual's liberty to create change" (Thoreau 530) "It is not enough to hold an opinion, one must act". Thoreau upheld his morals and demonstrated a peaceful rejection of the government and its policies. Civil disobedience was considered a moral and social duty of American citizens.Dr. Martin luther King was a well known African American leader of the civil rights movement in 1960 who gave many speeches and non-violent protests. As influenced by Thoreaus civil disobedience acts he took the same idea of direct action to protest the injustices brought upon black Americans in the United States. King wanted the actions of civil rights activists to provoke thought, critical evaluation of the government and of society at large, and a radical change in the governments and societys treatment of minorities. King like Thoreau, did not take a violent approach, he often used sit-ins and rallies to unite the black community (Encarta Encyclopedia 2). One example was the Birmingham bus boycott. Blacks where treated unjust and often had to give up their seats to whites, and had to listen to racial slurs made by the bus driver. Non-violent acts such as this, led to Kings arrest in Birmingham...

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