Evaluation of Martin Luther King Jr’s Nonviolence Theory in Conflict Management

Author: Barnabas Obiora Idoko
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University

The problem of oppression of one group by another is perennial in human society; hence, the relevance of our topic, Evaluation of Martin Luther King Jr’s Nonviolence Theory in Conflict Management is implied. It is a painful existential fact that human beings subjugate their fellows to the point of denying them their dignity as persons created in the image of God. In the face of injustice and oppression, what should the just do? Many critical thinkers and theologians subscribe to violence as a means to assuage ugly act of injustice and oppression. However, experience and research have shown that reciprocating violence will produce unending violence. What then is the way out? Should the just fold their hands in the face of oppression and segregation? This intellectual piece is an attempt to answer these questions. It is historical, analytical, comparative and evaluative. Historically, King’s nonviolent approach to the American racial problem is the culmination of the struggle that spanned through a period of about four hundred years. Hence, an objective assessment of the vital role he played in the struggle requires a good understanding of the historical setting. This thesis is comparative in the sense that King tried to explore the existential alternative to nonviolence as were proposed by pro-violent Black Nationalist. It is King’s defense of his own method against those alternatives that constitute the comparison. The philosophical and theological foundations which directly or indirectly molded King’s convictions and his nonviolence techniques, and how he was able to integrate them into a unique system of active nonviolent philosophy of liberation provide the analytical aspect of this work. We also tried to delineate how problematic those obstacles were and how he confronted them without yielding to violence. This accounts for the expository cum evaluative methodologies used. The serendipity of this research is the discovery that nonviolence is the greatest moral weapon against an unjust oppressor. As a result we feel justified to conclude that nonviolent resistance to social oppression is the greatest and most effective appeal to God’s will and human conscience.

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