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My Soul Is Rested

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My Soul Is Rested: A Critique of Raines' Work.

The Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South is one that is well known and familiar to us all. We all know of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the charismatic preacher who was undisputedly the leader of the civil rights movement in the South. We have all also heard of Rosa Parks, the black woman who would not give up her seat in the bus and was thus arrested for it, she was the catalyst that sparked the civil rights movement. They were the famous people often mentioned in the Civil Rights Movement. However, they were not the only people engaged in the Civil Rights Movement, there were many more, and their stories are just as important as that of Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. That reason is perhaps justifiably the main reason why Howell Raines set out to compile this book, so that the people who were there at the Civil Rights Movement would have a chance to tell their story.

Rosa Parks, without a doubt, was the catalyst that sparked off the entire Civil Rights Movement. Her arrest and subsequent trial on the grounds of a segregation ordinance was "inviting a federal court test of the Jim Crow laws upon which segregation throughout the Deep South depended" (47). The Montgomery Improvement Association thus sprang up in accordance with the trial of Rosa Parks, and later on Martin Luther King was elected President of the MIA. Everybody credits the starting of the movement with Martin Luther King. However, according to E.D. Nixon, "If you're gonna talk about the boycott, they oughta start from the day Rosa L. Parks was arrested and not just December the fifth when Rev. King was elected president" (50). Clearly, Rosa Parks was the one who should be credited with the starting of the Civil Rights Movement; Martin Luther King came after her.

While Rosa Parks was the catalyst that sparked the Movement, there is no doubt that Martin Luther King was the main driving force behind the Civil Rights Movement, as well as being its figurehead. Though only 26 when first elected, his speech at the NAACP in the August of 1955 was impressive enough to catch the attention of E.D. Nixon, and in Nixon's own words: "I don't know how I'm going to do it yet, but someday I'm gon' hang him to the stars" (48). On December 5th, he was thus elected president of the Movement. Martin Luther King's highlight of his career came during August 28th, 1963, when roughly 250,000 people marched in from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, ending in his famous "I Have A Dream" speech.

The Civil Rights Movement had a few influences, and Gandhi was one of the major influences of the Civil Rights Movement. A lot of the tactics used in the Civil Rights Movement followed that of Gandhi's Salt March on the British Government. James Farmer, National Director of the NAACP states: "We, following the Gandhian technique, wrote to Washinton, and ... and ..." (110), following Gandhi's way of sending a letter of warning to the British authorities. At Howard University in Columbia, Farmer met and consulted with an Indian named Krishnalal Shridharani, who was doing a dissertation on Gandhi's techniques used during his famous Salt March entitled War Without Violence. The title caught "our imagination because that was precisely what we were aimed at" (28), explains Farmer. Gandhi's steps of investigation, negotiation, publicity and then demonstration were outlined in Shridharani's book, and thus they "adopted those steps as our method of action" (28), a nonviolent means of getting what they wanted as well as drawing attention to their cause.

The other major influence on the Civil Rights Movement was King's deeply religious beliefs. King was also the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Even though the Civil Rights Movement was a long, trying event; and at times downright bloody, King always emphasised the fact that the protest was rooted in Christian principles. Being the president of the SCLC, King never condoned violence, and that the black protestors were to not use violence themselves, even when faced with violence. John Lewis & Albert Bigelow was entering a white waiting room in South Carolina, but "they clubbed him, beat him and knocked him down ... and he didn't hit back at all" (111) showing a true testament as followers of King's preaching.

Gaining ground for the Civil Rights Movement was not easy. As expected, there was opposition from various sides. May 14, 1961, a white mob burns a Freedom Rider bus outside Anniston, Alabama. Freedom Riders aboard a second bus are also severely beaten by Klansmen in Birmingham (14). Not only is there opposition from the white supremacist group the KKK, but there is also



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