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Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is the active, public, conscientious breach of the
law to bring about a change in law or public policy. Henry David
Thoreau coined the term in 1848 in his essay about his refusal as an
abolitionist to pay the poll tax. Thoreau argued that citizens ought
deliberately to break laws that conflict with their moral beliefs.
Gandhi used nonviolent civil disobedience to protest racial pass laws
in South Africa and in India’s independence struggle, including
the famous Salt March against the British monopoly on salt. Dr. King
and others made civil disobedience a cornerstone of the Civil Rights
Movement, defying Jim Crow laws through sit-ins, violating laws and
court orders prohibiting marches and boycotts, and accepting jail
sentences to highlight racial injustice. In his Letter from Birmingham
Jail, King explains the moral arguments for civil disobedience and
distinguishes between just and unjust laws.

Associated Archive Content : 134 results

Letter from Scott Farleigh and Tony Hazapis to MLK

Scott Farleigh and Tony Hazapis invite Dr. King to speak to the students at University of Oregon.

Letter from Secretary to Daniel C. Thompson

Dr. King's Secretary writes Dr. Daniel Thompson of Howard University and encloses a foreword written by Dr. King, discussing violence and the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi.

Letter from Thomas G. Carson to MLK

Thomas G. Carson writes Dr. King as a white supporter of civil rights legislation, but fed-up with what he feels are the changing views of Dr. King and the riots "committed by Negroes in the name of civil rights."

Letter from Vanessa Garrett to MLK

Vanessa Garrett writes Dr. King discussing various problems African Americans face. She seeks advice on how to solve these issues.

Letter from W. B. Blix to MLK

W. B. Blix writes to Dr. King to express his support of the Civil Rights Movement. However, Blix also informs Dr. King that he has lost his support because of Dr. King's preemptive decision to commit civil disobedience if the Poor People's March on Washington is unsuccessful.

Letter from WSB-TV's Don Elliot Heald to MLK

Don Elliot, of WSB Television in Atlanta, encloses an editorial for Dr. King to review. In the editorial, American Baptist Convention President J. H. Jackson criticizes Dr. King for not taking a more constructive approach towards influencing Congress to pass more civil rights legislation.

Letter to MLK Regarding Opposing Views

The author of this letter expresses opposition towards Dr. King's civil disobedience methodologies, believing that civil disobedience is "contrary to God."

Meet the Press Interview

This is a transcript of NBC television's Meet the Press interview with Dr. King in August 1967 with Edwin Newman as moderator. King answered questions about his views on the Vietnam conflict, nonviolence, and the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Memo from Tom Offenburger to MLK and Others Regarding Article

Tom Offenburger sends Dr. King a copy of a newspaper clipping from the Atlanta Constitution in which the writer Bruce Galphin expresses his sentiments regarding the often violent occurrences at nonviolent protests.

Memorandum from MLK

Dr. King regrets his absence at the Unity Council meeting and apologizes for his inability to sign a statement because it disagreed with his methods of civil disobedience.

MLK Address - The Association of The Bar of the City of New York

Dr. King gives an address to the Association of The Bar of the City of New York at the Hilton Hotel in New York. He praises lawyers for using their knowledge to aid the Civil Rights Movement. He states that Negro lawyers bring wisdom and a determination to win to the courtroom. Dr. King also defines an unjust law as a law that is "out of harmony with moral law of the universe."

MLK Address at Mass Meeting in Eutaw, Alabama

Dr. King challenges the Negro residents of Eutaw, Alabama to participate in the upcoming SCLC Poor People's Campaign. In this address, he urges the citizens of Eutaw to occupy Washington, D.C. in an effort to press Congress for a redistribution of wealth in America. He urges, "All ye who are tired of segregation and discrimination, come unto us. All ye who are overworked and underpaid, come unto us."

MLK Address at NAACP 53rd Convention

Dr. King delivered this address to the NAACP's 53rd Annual Convention held in Morehouse College's gymnasium in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King argues that it is imperative to debunk the perceived myths concerning segregation and discrimination in order to foster a society free of racial inequalities.

MLK Address at the 53rd National Convention of the NAACP

This document is Dr. King's address to the 53rd Annual Convention of the NAACP in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King discusses the following myths in this address: time will solve all problems, education can only solve problems of racial conflict, the Negro vote can do little to alter present conditions, and the practice of nonviolence is ineffective. Dr. King also speaks on "disunity," and states "the law may not make a man love me, but it may keep him from lynching me."

MLK Address at the AFL-CIO Fourth Constitutional Convention

Dr. King delivers a speech at the Fourth Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO to address the lack of equality and rights for laborers and people of color. Dr. King encourages those at the convention to remain steadfast in the fight for social justice in order to overcome the mountain of oppression.

MLK Address on Racial Injustice, Poverty, and War

Dr. King addresses the French community during his "Racial Injustice, Poverty, and War" speech. He discusses topics such as poverty, politics, war, and the government.

MLK Address Regarding the Negro Family

In this address, Dr. King discusses the struggles of the Negro family. He states that the Negro family's life determines the individuals' capacity to love. Dr. King also discusses how American slavery has impacted the Negro family.

MLK Address to Southern Association of Political Scientists

Dr. King addresses the Southern Association of Political Scientists in November of 1964. This address consists of the accomplishments made because of the Civil Rights Movement and areas that society needs to improve upon.

MLK Addresses the National Association of the Bar

Dr. King seeks to gain support from legal practitioners by comparing the fight for legal rights of African Americans to the earlier fight for independence in which America took a stand against the forces of England.

MLK Announces a New SCLC March in Washington, DC

Dr. King announces the SCLC's decision to lead a non-violent march on Washington protesting the government's lack of support in providing jobs and income for impoverished Americans.

MLK Announces The Jail Sentences Stemming from the 1963 Birmingham Demonstrations

Dr. King makes this statement regarding the arrest of himself and other leaders of the 1963 Birmingham struggle. The Supreme Court in 1967 ruled that these leaders unjustly broke the city wide injunction banning demonstrations. Dr. King urges the nation, "Take heed. Do not allow the Bill of Rights to become a prisoner of war."

MLK Draft Text Retrieved by T.D. Johnston

The document is a dedication from T. D. Johnston of Huntsville, Alabama to the King Center. Mr. Johnston acknowledges being on an Eastern Airline plane with Dr. King in 1961, where he noticed that Dr. King tossed a speech text that he found. He decided to hold on to the document for preservation and donated it to the King Center. Martin Luther King, III received the document on behalf of the King Center.

MLK Explains Nonviolent Resistance

Dr. King explores the underpinnings of nonviolent resistance by analyzing Thoreau's "On Civil Disobedience," the teachings of Gandhi and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

MLK in Memoriam

Following Dr. King's assassination, this tribute highlights King's life and the impact he had on the world. It includes a reading from "The Negro American: A Documentary History," an audio recording of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech" and his eulogy. test2

MLK Press Conference Birmingham, Alabama

This document contains dialogue during a press conference in Birmingham, Alabama. The reporters asks Dr. King questions regarding plans for the Soviet Union, Washington D.C., and the Civil Rights Movement.

MLK Requests Federal Protection from US Attorney General

Dr. King sends this urgent request for protection to US Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach. Negro citizens were brutalized while protesting the arrest of James Orange. Alabama State Troopers prevented protestors from seeking medical attention by refusing to allow them to leave Zion Methodist Church.

MLK Responds to Questions Pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement

Dr. King responds to a series of questions concerning such topics as his opposition to the Vietnam War, the direction of the Civil Rights Movement, urban riots in Detroit and Newark, and SCLC initiatives catered to the ghettos of the American South.

MLK Speech at 4th Constitutional Convention - AFL-CIO

This is an annotated copy of an address given by Dr. King at an AFL-CIO convention. Dr. King thoroughly discusses the working conditions of Negroes, and states the Negro unemployment rate is similar to "malignant cancer." He concludes that the two most dynamic forces in the country are the labor movement and the Negro Freedom Movement.

MLK Speech at SCLC Staff Retreat

Dr. King addresses the staff of the SCLC at a retreat in Frogmore, South Carolina. He divides his speech into three parts: "whence we have come, where we have come, and where do we go from here." Dr. King thoroughly discusses his thoughts on Communism, the practice of nonviolence, the belief that racism is an "ontological affirmation,"and the weaknesses of Black Power.

MLK Speech: Acceptance of Spingarn Medal

Dr. King addresses the attendees at the NAACP 48th Annual Convention in Detroit, Michigan. He acknowledges the noble men and women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott Movement, for which his leadership earned him this award. Dr. King also discusses the ongoing struggle for civil rights and the nonviolent approach needed for the American Negro to win freedom and justice.

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