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A. 3. The Civil Rights Movements and Black Power in the USA, 1955-68

Volume One -> A. Introduction to Nonviolent Action -> A. 3. The Civil Rights Movements and Black Power in the USA, 1955-68

The US Civil Rights Movement is included in this introductory Section A because the movement, especially in the years from 1955-1963, has become an iconic example of the the role of nonviolent action, the range of methods available and its potential for success. Martin Luther King Jr is also one of the key leaders and theorists of nonviolent action. The challenges later posed by black power militants to adherence to nonviolence raised questions about the limits of nonviolent methods, for example in undermining entrenched socio-economic inequality, and the attractions of violence.

Peniel, Joseph, The Sword and the Shield, New York, Basic Books, 2020, pp. 384

This book focuses on the role of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in the movement for rights for Black Americans. The author contests the standard view that they were rivals, and that Malcolm X was the radical exponent of violence challenging King's more moderate and peaceable approach. The author, a historian at the University of Texas, argues that their view of the United States and their strategies for achieving justice tended to converge over time, as King grew more radical in his later years and Malcolm X moved towards a more nuanced political approach. But they had separate power bases and styles of communication.