History, as Karl Marx suggest, is defined by human suffering. When a man is oppressed, his natural recours is rebellion. Most ost restiance movements of the past incorporated violenve. Violence has been a mean to an end for centurys. Even today our lives are chronicled through violence and human suffering. However, a paradox ensues when revolutionaries use violence to free themselves from oppression, as a mean to an end. By replacing violence with violence, you are only contuining a destructive cycle that can in no way liberate everybody. It oppresses the oppressor and depresses the depressed. Martin Luther King jr. sought to remedy this unhealthy cycle by prescribing a new approach to rebellion. Not only did he inspire millions to resist their human condition, he did so without resorting to violence. Through his pragmatic and ethical approach to civil rights reform, Martin Luther became a revolutionary revolutionist.
King believed that the problem with violence as a means of pursuing freedom is that revolutionaries must often employ means that threaten to subvert it therefore is illegitimate, and as Hanna Arendt states in On Revolution, “Violence has no intrinsic value, and on the human scale of relative values, will always lie beneath the human needs and interests that is serves.” Albert Camus states “Violence can only be an extreme limit which combats another form of violence, as, for example, in the case of insurrection” Both Arendt and Camus agree with King that Violence, although justifiable in extreme cases, can never be legitimate. King sought to legitimize the Civil Rights Movement by exhorting and adhering to a philosophy of non-violence grounded in morals and human ethics.
When we hear the word “rebellion”, the first thought we have is that of violence, so it is of no coincidence that the pre-King black struggle for equal rights is predominantly remembered for its violence. Blacks were rent from their native Africa and forced to exist as slaves. The treatment of these people not only decimated their freedom but demeaned their humanity. Slave owners whipped and beat the slaves if the tried to escape and black slave girls were raped by their masters. Some refused to accept such oppression and began to rebel. Nat Turner, who is heralded as a martyr, rebelled against the white slave owners of the south by walking from plantation to plantation massacring the owners and their family’s. Even today, his martyrdom is vividly recounted in elementary educations black history courses. However, what is not often remembered is the fierce backlash that ensued due to the violent nature of his rebellion. Violence and discrimination continued to plague Black Americans even after the Civil war. They were lynched, their homes were burned, and they were terrorized by white supremacists who refused to accept the outcome of the war. Blacks did not sit by idly and watch, there are many reports of black militant groups organizing...