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Nonviolence

Smiley, Glenn E.

Smiley, who rode alongside Martin Luther King on Montgomery’s first desegregated bus, served as an advisor to King and the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) during the Montgomery bus boycott. A southern white minister and national field secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), Smiley helped solidify King’s understanding of Gandhian nonviolence. After interviewing King during the first few months of the boycott, Smiley wrote a colleague: “I believe that God has called Martin Luther King to lead a great movement here, and in the South. But why does God lay such a burden on one so young, so inexperienced, so good? King can be a Negro Gandhi, or he can be made into an unfortunate demagogue destined to swing from a lynch mob’s tree” (Smiley, 28 February 1956).

Muste, Abraham Johannes

A renowned Christian pacifist and a leading member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), Abraham Johannes Muste was one of the foremost proponents of nonviolence in the United States. Muste was a strong supporter of the civil rights movement, as well as a leader in the anti-Vietnam War movement. At the end of Muste’s life, Martin Luther King said that without Muste, “the American Negro might never have caught the meaning of true love for humanity” (Robinson, 137).

Sit-ins

The sit-in campaigns of 1960 and the ensuing creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) demonstrated the potential strength of grassroots militancy and enabled a new generation of young people to gain confidence in their own leadership. Martin Luther King, Jr., described the student sit-ins as an “electrifying movement of Negro students [that] shattered the placid surface of campuses and communities across the South,” and he expressed pride in the new activism for being “initiated, fed and sustained by students” (Papers 5:447; 368).

Pritchett, Laurie

As police chief of Albany, Georgia, Laurie Pritchett gained national attention when he effectively thwarted the efforts of the Albany Movement in 1961–1962. Pritchett’s nonviolent response to demonstrations, including the mass arrests of protesters and the jailing of Martin Luther King, Jr., was seen as an effective strategy in bringing the campaign to an end before the movement could secure any concrete gains.

McKissick, Floyd Bixler

As national director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) from 1966 to 1968, Floyd McKissick’s tenure with the organization was dominated by controversy over Black Power. Although the media was quick to focus on areas of disagreement between McKissick and Martin Luther King, the two leaders sought to downplay their differences, stressing their “brotherhood” and areas of mutual respect and agreement (Wehrwein, “Dr. King and CORE Chief”).

Paul's Letter to American Christians, Sermon Delivered to the Commission on Ecumenical Missions and Relations, United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

King began to deliver versions of this sermon, written as early as 1956, as national speaking opportunities increased.1 He uses the form of a New Testament Pauline epistle to challenge the American church, as Frederick Meek had done previously in his “A Letter to Christians.”2 King preached the following version at the inaugural convention of the newly established United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

King Center (Atlanta, Georgia)

Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King as “the official, living memorial dedicated to the advancement of the legacy” of Martin Luther King, Jr., the King Center is located in Atlanta’s historic Auburn district next to Ebenezer Baptist Church. Originally called the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc., the King Center houses the final resting place of Martin and Coretta Scott King. Its programming focuses on disseminating King's philosophies of nonviolence and service to mankind, building international partners to further the “Beloved Community,” and overseeing various programs that use King’s name.

Nelson, William Stuart

An internationally known expert on nonviolence, William Stuart Nelson corresponded regularly with Martin Luther King. When Nelson sent him his 1958 article “Satyagraha: Gandhian Principles of Non-Violent Non-Cooperation,” King wrote that it was “one of the best and most balanced analyses of the Gandhian principles of nonviolent, noncooperation that I have read” (King, 18 August 1958).

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