The insurrection of the U.S. Capitol many of us witnessed on January 6th 2021 was a large contrast to the non-violent protests Martin Luther King Jr. And John Lewis participated in during the 1950’s and 1960’s. A small similarity between the two, was the act of marching.What started on that day as a rally and march to the Capitol building became a riot and attack that resulted in death, injuries, and damage that is now considered an act of domestic terrorism.
The larger contextual commonality between what happened January 6th and the Civil and Human rights movements of King and Lewis involves the social position of Black people in America. It is no coincidence that a placard memorializing Congressman John Lewis was destroyed on January 6th in the Capitol. What happened at the Capitol was not a recent phenomenon stirred up by President Trump, but part of the long tragic story of America, a country built on the exploitation of non-white people here and around the world, through colonization.
People often think of the Civil Rights movement as something that happened in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but it began hundreds of years ago when the first person resisted coming to America and continues now in such movements as Black Lives Matter, which John Lewis was supportive of. The 2020 protests of the killing of George Floyd brought debate over the effectiveness of non-violent and violent group actions. One can imagine that Martin Luther King Jr. would have much to be proud of now but would be deeply disappointed by the lack of progress in civil rights and the polarization of American citizens.
King and Lewis were working towards freedom and democracy for all American citizens in general, Black people in particular. Trump supporters involved on January 6th were working for Trumps authoritarian rule, an un-American anti-democratic, White Nationalist agenda. The peaceful transition from one president to another is a symbol of the health of American democracy.
Does your definition of protest include rioting?
Does rioting go against what a protest is?
When it comes to the positive evolution of humanity, which has a larger impact, violence or non-violence?