Step Five is Direct Action. Only as a last resort, should direct action be launched. Too often people charge ahead, without laying the groundwork, and act based on rumors. They fail to negotiate based on specifics learned from investigation. Charlie Walker stressed, “Direct action must be launched only when all attempts at persuasion have failed, repeated offers of negotiation are refused and no area of compromise can be found.” He wrote, “the effort is not to overcome or humiliate the opponents, but rather … to seek reconciliation, understanding and friendship.”
Dr. Martin Luther King at the 1963 March on Washington
Step Four is Spiritual Preparation/Training. Achieve spiritual discipline and moral strength by asking your leaders and participants to examine their motives, work at forgiveness, and use prayer to accomplish these things.
Rigorous training during the civil rights movement made it possible for demonstrators to protest in a loving and positive way by changing their attitudes and working at forgiveness beforehand. Using extensive role-playing enabled them to deal with bitterness and hatred, emotions which can alienate potential allies.
“Eternal God… Help us to seek that which is high, noble and Good.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Step 1: Investigate
Step 2: Negotiate
Step 3. If negotiation fails, educate the public about grievances so peaceful change may take place. Try to educate the public into understanding, accepting, and even perhaps demanding a peaceful change.
Step two is “negotiate.”
Make sure you negotiate with those who have power to make the changes you seek. In Montgomery, Martin Luther King and other black leaders were very specific in their demands. They met with city officials in March of 1955 to negotiate seating on city buses and gave the city the chance to correct wrongs. The boycott did not begin until Rosa Parks’ arrest nine months later.
(Below: Martin Luther King speaking with President Johnson)
President Lyndon B Johnson (1908 – 1973) discusses the Voting Rights Act with civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968). The act, part of President Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ program trebled the number of black voters in the south, who had previously been hindered by racially inspired laws, 1965. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Everett Collection (415272cc)
Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, Washington DC – 1963
The first Step is “Investigate.” Martin Luther King investigated thoroughly a situation before going in and trying to make changes — sometimes for a year. He investigated and learned the facts, the laws, and the personalities on both sides. He knew what he was dealing with, knew what he was talking about, and had a plan when he approached the leadership of a city or nation.
Next week: Step two