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Scarborough_ENGL265FL09 Final Essay

Scarborough_ENGL265FL09 Final Essay - Time and again the...

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Time and again the Civil Rights Movement focused its frustration and energy towards peaceful, nonviolent direct action. The Civil Rights Movement’s persistence was perpetuated by Martin Luther King’s inspiring speeches often alluding to Biblical stories of struggle and strife. The movement witnessed an increased effectiveness, in particular participation as followers sought solace in King’s speeches which brought many to their feet in support. King spoke of the Civil Rights Movements’ intentions and purpose with allusions to Biblical anecdotes in stark contrast to the opposition’s display of violence. The success of King and his dedicated following’s tenacity placed the issue of desegregation into the American public’s view. It is consistent throughout King’s speeches and text to use allusions of Biblical flight and peril, the parallel to these stories are the aspects of peaceful Biblical people being oppressed. Using “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” I will be able to compare the vernacular tradition to the Civil Rights Movements course of action in the respective cities and how the white majority came to oppose the movement and everything it represented. The changing political tides weighed heavily on reactions to movements for nonviolent protest. There seemed to be an invisible hand directing the actions of the opposition. The Civil Rights Movement was carried on the back of writings like “Letter from Birmingham Jail” because King evoked that the Movement sought “to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored” (King 1898). The Movement intended from its conception to promote nonviolent protest. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wanted to draw attention to their cause through unconventional mediums. Rather than violence, the movement employed tactics of Biblical heritage as their guide to achieving a platform to be heard. 1
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In 1963 lingering Jim Crow laws and whispers of “separate but equal” haunted Birmingham. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth stood for many years on the frontline of Birmingham’s civil rights battle; as co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Shuttlesworth and King were close friends and both fought for civil obedience in Birmingham. The Civil Rights Movement was lead by many pastors, preachers and respected community with their efforts directed towards “combative spirituality.” The term “combative spirituality,” as coined by Cornel West, best describes their attributes that propagated social change. “Combative spirituality” is reference to the “joyous spirituality that preserves meaning by fighting against claims of inferiority” (Manis 8). There was success in Birmingham because the issue was dramatized. National attention was directed at the matter because of the joyous fight against the many claims of inferiority plaguing the town and Deep South. Dr. King and the Southern
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