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Four Historical Occasions Of Non Violent Protest

2421 words - 10 pages

The 20th Century saw many civil resistance movements that made change by implementing a system of education in their non-violent protest strategies. This paper will be looking at: Gandhi and the struggle for Indian Independence (specifically 1907-1947), African American U.S. Civil Rights Movement (specifically 1960-1967), South African Apartheid (specifically 1976-1994), and the Northern Ireland Republicans held at Long Kesh Prison (1976-1985). These four struggles demonstrate that knowledge is powerful, and can be to used to either endure, or better fight, or at best end violence and oppression.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (also know as Mahatma, meaning “Great Soul”) is celebrated as the father of the Indian independence movement, and the leading freedom fighter for Indian nationalism in British-ruled India (Nojeim, 57). Gandhi developed his own concept of passive resistance, which he called Satyagraha (meaning “truth and firmness or “truth force”) (Ackerman & Duvall, 65). The concept was a way of non-violent protest against authority and injustice, and Gandhi taught this concept through living as an example of peace and passive resistance (Roberts & Ash, 43).
After moving to South Africa, Gandhi personally suffered through several injustices of discrimination for being non-European (Ackerman & Duvall, 63). Finding that discriminatory practices were common, Gandhi began a stay of twenty-years in South Africa, during which he worked to fight discrimination, and better Indian’s rights in South Africa (Ackerman & Duvall, 64). Gandhi first used his concept of Satyagraha in 1907 to protest the Black Act, which required all Indians in South Africa to be fingerprinted and carry registration documents (Nojeim, 128). After seven years of mass protest, the Black Act was repealed, and Gandhi had proven that nonviolent protest could be successful (Nojeim, 130).
As well as teaching Satyagraha, Gandhi spread ideals of peace and equality through his newspaper the Indian Opinion (Nojeim, 82). Gandhi taught equality through an experimental communal living community called Phoenix Settlement, which he was inspired to build after reading the Bhagavad Gita and books by John Ruskin (Nojeim, 82). It seems that in order to create a more benevolent world, and teach others how to gain freedom; Gandhi modeled himself and the communities he served after his ideals of peace and equality.
Once Gandhi returned to India, he worked diligently to remove British rule from India, and end the oppression to improve the lives of India’s poorest classes (Nojeim, 112). To better understand the daily struggles of the masses of Indians living in poverty, Gandhi would dress in a plain loincloth to blend in with the poor (Nojeim, 112). Although this choice of clothing also supported Gandhi’s belief in a minimalistic lifestyle, it allowed him to better relate to the people he was trying to liberate (Nojeim, 112). Through his choice of appearance, Gandhi was able to educate himself about...

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