Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And The Ethic Of Love

1513 words - 6 pages

The civil rights movement was a period in the United States in which African-Americans actively started to demand equality for themselves. It was a movement to end prejudice and segregation against black people so that African-Americans could live as freely as white people. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—a very popular civil rights leader during the civil rights movement—is considered one of the most influential people during this time due to his method for achieving equality. Dr. King believed that the only way to end segregation and attain equality was to nonviolently resist by using a principle of love as a foundation. His belief in this method of nonviolence resistance through an ethic of love stemmed from his Christian faith and Gandhi. Dr. King’s ethic of love helped establish non-violence resistance and integrationism because it allowed oppressed African-Americans to have understanding, acceptance, and love for their white oppressor. Without the ethic of love, nonviolent resistance and integrationism would not have been possible.
During the period of the civil rights movement, there was a lot of violence and prejudice toward black people. Some violence included church bombings and lynching and some prejudice examples included segregation and prejudiced laws. A young Martin Luther King Jr. describes a prejudicial situation he recalls between his father and a clerk while waiting in a shoe store: “I’ll be happy to wait on you if you’ll just move to those seats in the rear,” said the clerk politely. “There’s nothing wrong with these seats. We’re quite comfortable here,” the minister [King Sr.] replied. “Sorry,” said the clerk “but you’ll have to move” (Ramsay, Four Modern Prophets 29). The situation was prejudicial because the clerk would not attend to King Sr. and young Dr. King because they were sitting in the seats at the front of the store. The seats at the front were usually reserved for white people only while the seats at the back of the store were for African-Americans. Similar segregation situations occurred at other places such as the public buses. A popular example of prejudice on the public bus was Rosa Parks not giving up her seat to a white person. These prejudices and violent acts along with unjust arrests, segregated facilities, and protesters being hosed down fueled Martin Luther King Jr.’s method for a nonviolent resistance movement that was based on an ethic of love.
The ethic of love allowed oppressed black people to nonviolently resist against their white oppressors. In terms of the civil rights movement, the ethic of love states that African-Americans should love their white oppressors instead of hating them because love is the only way to bring about a permanent change. Dr. King pleaded that, “The oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe”...

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