The most leading approach used by Civil Right activists throughout the movement was non-violence, in short, this method was central to gaining a change in federal law, it is evident that through this method the Civil Rights Campaign got higher coverage which aided the movement get both support and publicity it needed, both on a national scale, as well as internationally. When mentioning the Civil Rights Act, the main figure that comes to mind is Martin Luther King Jr whose main strategy surrounded non-violence.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a strong belief of equality and felt as though every man should share the same privileges and rights. During the period of the 1950s and 1960s he illustrated the prejudice against African Americans and advised the course of action on how to end ethnic exclusion. King wrote, ‘Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.’ To compare his famous non-violent strategies to a weapon may seem in opposite in his ideals but it underlines the effectiveness of the method. One of King’s main focus points was using his plan of action that shapes change in both political and social aspects with organised sit ins and marches that prove non-violent schemes help in establishing the start of community-based changes. In spite of the fact, Asenas states ‘non-violence was the primary and sometimes only movement tactic’ there were several other approaches to be explained when evaluating whether the Civil Rights methods were central to the movements success.
However, there were several groups of Civil Rights demonstrator groups which opposed King’s ideas of his non-violent approaches. The two main groups were influenced by Malcolm X, the Black Panthers and the Black Muslims, who stand with the more harsh approaches to achieve the goal of Civil Rights. Although, some of the violent strategies were less successful than hoped by activist groups, it still managed to help increase race-related pride and emphasis the African-American culture which impacted the social lives of the community at this time. This could be shown as a key event due to the increased support of the black culture reflecting a positive effect on the way the Black American community was viewed.
Non-violent methods were prominent to the success of the Civil Rights Campaign as the express of opposition in the form of protests and peaceful demonstrations were the main drive in increasing media coverage, and this meant the awareness of the movement moved from regional to nationwide scale, thereby forcing the US government to put a plan into action. Charles E. Cobb Jr defined this in his notable book, This nonviolent stuff’ll get you killed, declaring ‘the photographs and film footage of these events shocked the American public and rallied popular support for such historic legislation as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965’. For instance, the Albany Movement underlined the way in which the constant published reports helped the non-violent techniques progress. Furthermore, this didn’t stop segregation, this is because ‘the ostensibly ‘non-violent’ tactics of Albany Police Chief Laurie Pritchett, who knew full well that open police brutality would only arouse sympathy for the Civil Rights Movement.’ The non-violent strategies used by Pritchett blocked the movement from gaining considerate public broadcasting which had the opportunity to bring US government attention to Albany with likely acknowledgment. At this time, there were high amount of police brutality, which was purposely hidden from the media, all that was shown was activists peacefully arrested and moved to penitentiary beyond the city. In defiance of one thousand two hundred participants being isolated, the lack of police cruelty showed a huge drop in the notice of Albany, therefore there was no privileges made out of the white ruling class.
It is evident that the achievements of non-violent methods lead to the Civil Rights Act which terminated segregation and discrimination across the states, due to multiple successful demonstrations in this time. On the other hand, the legislation alone could not eliminate the still ongoing racial intolerance and white supremacy in the South. Even now, the Civil Rights Act weakness are still visible, for instance, in 2004, a representative of the Republican party Ron Paul debated ‘the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations… Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions’. Within this proclamation, the idea can be backed up by William Clayson who agrees ‘that mounted police beat peaceful marches in Selma proved that the Civil Rights Act had failed to vanquish racist violence.’
Changing ethnic perspectives in such little time would have been unattainable, Clayson emphasises the point of the legislation did not a thing to administer safety for the black community from physical threats. Moreover, John Goering underlines some deep-rooted issues, ‘over twenty years have elapsed since Title Vl of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, and the bulk of public housing tenants and projects is still segregated. The failure to eliminate segregation and discrimination… is partly due to the inadequacy of the laws themselves.’ Consequently, despite nonviolent strategies were essential in the achievements established in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the progress would not have been so successful in the absence of the intimidating remarks of violent methods which convinced the US federal government to comply with the pressures from the non-violent campaigners.