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Title page for ETD etd-03232015-131407


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Siracusa, Anthony Christopher III
Author's Email Address anthony.c.siracusa.iii@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03232015-131407
Title Building the Most Durable Weapon: The Origins of Non-Violence in the U.S. Struggle for Civil Rights
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dennis C. Dickerson Committee Member
Samira Sheikh Committee Member
Keywords
  • bayard rustin
  • aj muste
  • a phillip randolph
  • social history
  • us politics
  • civil rights
  • nonviolence
  • james farmer
Date of Defense 2015-04-30
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This paper attempts to deepen historical understanding of how non-violence became a vital force in modern US politics. It interrogates the indelible association between the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and non-violent action, arguing that Kingian origin narratives of non-violence obscure historical apprehension of the long process of intellectual, tactical, and spiritual experimentation that produced a new kind of weapon in the United States.

The history in this manuscript suggests that a legible non-violent praxis was developed in a partnership between A.J. Muste’s Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and A. Phillip Randolph’s all-black March on Washington Movement (MOWM) in the early 1940s. Despite the yawning divide between each movement on questions of race and war, this collaboration between the MOWM and the FOR launched a dialogical process of intellectual exchange and tactical experimentation that made legible a form of non-violence in US politics. Gandhi’s Quit India Campaign of 1942 inspired this collaboration, and the movement interpenetration between FOR and MOWM activists during the “Gandhian Moment” of 1942 hastened the development and diffusion of a non-violent praxis nearly two decades before the sit-in revolution swept across the United States in 1960.

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