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Part II: Protests vs. Nonviolent Campaigns
More from Diane Nash:
“Let’s take the Montgomery bus boycott. Blacks thought for decades that whites were segregating them on buses. But if you think about it, Blacks got on the bus, paid their fare, and then walked to the segregated part of the bus. The day the Blacks withdrew their participation and decided they wouldn’t walk to the back of the bus was the day that system fell.”
In the south we changed ourselves into people who could not be segregated. And once we did that, the world had to either fit itself up against that view or kill us in large numbers…We don’t want blind followers in a nonviolent campaign, so the second step is you educate your constituency to what you learned. And you always recruit new participants.
The third step is negotiation. You contact your oppressor. Let them understand exactly what your objective is, the fact that you love and respect them as a person but will not tolerate the oppression. Sometimes you can solve the problem at the negotiation stage – not often, but sometimes. For instance, the lunch counter protests. The restaurant owners and managers told us that they thought if they served blacks at the lunch counter no whites would sit down, that there would be a white boycott of their restaurants. And we thought about that, and said, that’s a valid concern because they are businessmen and are here to make money. So we recruited some very middle-aged, very stately looking white women from some of the liberal churches and those women agreed to sit at the newly desegregated lunch counters so if a black was served some of those women would be there and there could not be a white boycott. That worked very well, except at the end of the six week period the women complained bitterly about all the weight they had gained sitting there eating all day for six weeks.”