“Adapting nonviolent resistance to conditions in the United States, we swept into Southern streets to demand our citizenship and manhood. For the South, with its complex system of brutal segregation, we were inaugurating a rebellion. Merely to march in public streets was to rock the status quo to its roots. Boycotting buses in Montgomery, demonstrating in Birmingham, the citadel of segregation, and defying guns, dogs, and clubs in Selma, while maintaining disciplined nonviolence, totally confused the rulers of the South. If they let us march, they admitted their lie that the black man was content If they shot us down, they told the world they were inhuman brutes. They tried to stop us by threats and fear, the tactic that had long worked so effectively. But nonviolence had muzzled their guns and Negro defiance had shaken their confidence. When they finally reached for clubs, dogs, and guns, they found the world was watching, and then the power of nonviolent protest became manifest. It dramatized the essential meaning of the conflict and in magnified strokes made clear who was the evildoer and who was the undeserving victim.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Impasse in Race Relations, The Trumpet of Conscience