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Essay Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Ethic of Love

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The civil rights movement was a period in the United States in which African-Americans actively started to demand equality for themselves. It was a movement to end prejudice and segregation against black people so that African-Americans could live as freely as white people. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—a very popular civil rights leader during the civil rights movement—is considered one of the most influential people during this time due to his method for achieving equality. Dr. King believed that the only way to end segregation and attain equality was to nonviolently resist by using a principle of love as a foundation. His belief in this method of nonviolence resistance through an ethic of love stemmed from his Christian faith and Gandhi. Dr. King’s ethic of love helped establish non-violence resistance and integrationism because it allowed oppressed African-Americans to have understanding, acceptance, and love for their white oppressor. Without the ethic of love, nonviolent resistance and integrationism would not have been possible.
During the period of the civil rights movement, there was a lot of violence and prejudice toward black people. Some violence included church bombings and lynching and some prejudice examples included segregation and prejudiced laws. A young Martin Luther King Jr. describes a prejudicial situation he recalls between his father and a clerk while waiting in a shoe store: “I’ll be happy to wait on you if you’ll just move to those seats in the rear,” said the clerk politely. “There’s nothing wrong with these seats. We’re quite comfortable here,” the minister [King Sr.] replied. “Sorry,” said the clerk “but you’ll have to move” (Ramsay, Four Modern Prophets 29). The situation was prejudicial ...


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...n attacked by them. The ethic of love towards other African-Americans allows them to not retaliate because of the love they have for their African-American brothers and sisters. Because African-Americans seek to win the struggle for integration they cannot be selfish by wanting to protect themselves through self-defense. They must think to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their oppressed people. When faced with an issue such as self-defense, the ethic of love is necessary to overcome such an obstacle and to uphold the nonviolent resistance.






Work Cited

King, Martin Luther, and James Melvin. Washington. A Testament of Hope. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1991. Print.

Ramsay, William M. Four Modern Prophets: Walter Rauschenbusch, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gustavo Gutierrez, Rosemary Radford Ruether. Atlanta, GA: John Knox, 1986. Print.


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