Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Africana Studies

Major Professor

Cheryl Rodriguez, Ph.D.


Nonviolence, Activism, Jeremiad, Organizing, Mobilizing


Select members of the Congressional Black Caucus through their votes, speeches, arrests and nonviolent forms of protest practice a renewed kind of nonviolent resistance against a neoconservative political agenda advanced by the executive branch of the U.S. government in the past six years. Their practices are nonviolent according to the definition of nonviolence discussed by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his 1962 New York Times Magazine article: "we will take direct action against injustice without waiting for other agencies to act...We will try to persuade with our words---but if our words fail we will try to persuade with our acts." Nonviolent resistance according to this quote means first trying to persuade with words then trying to persuade with direct action. This study will compare nonviolent methods of direct action between 2001 and 2007 and those between 1955 and 1963.

The nonviolent methods between 2001 and 2007 resist the neoconservative policies that are based on the same assumptions as those in the civil rights movements between 1955 and 1963. The identification of five comparisons in particular proves a continuing tradition of nonviolent protest identified as a 'surviving legacy' of resistance against neoconservative policies. First, Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her seat on a city bus is comparable to U.S. Representative Barbara Lee's refusal to support the military invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Second, Daisy Bates's commitment to ensuring a quality public education for the Little Rock Nine is comparable to U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah's efforts to improve the Philadelphia public school system. Third, the organizing work of Ella Baker in creating the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960 is comparable to the organizing work of Maxine Waters in creating the Out of Iraq caucus in 2005.

Fourth, the appeals to the U.S. Constitution of James Farmer and the Freedom Riders serves as a foundation for John Conyers' appeal to the U.S. Constitution in his lawsuit against George W. Bush. Fifth, the strategy of getting arrested to call attention to unjust foreign policies within the past five years is comparable to the "jail, no bail" strategy during 1962 and 1963. The major point of this thesis is to argue the existence of a concerted strategy of nonviolent resistance practiced by specific Congressional Black Caucus members. The thesis will compare nonviolent resistance in the 21st century to that of the early 1960s.