Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2013—2014 Forum on Violence
CAS, 2015; History; Philosophy
The Legitimization of Nonviolence in U.S. Politics
In the 1950s and 1960s, African-American leaders undertook a civil rights campaign grounded in the belief that political change could be wrought by an extra-governmental group through nonviolent means. The American Civil Rights Movement was revolutionary in many ways, permanently changing the legal and philosophical landscape of the United States. My project re-imagines the idea of political legitimacy, as something that is found in types of political action as well as in forms of government. I argue that the peaceful protests led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others signified the formal legitimization of nonviolence as a political tool in the United States.