Discussion Facilitator: Mark Montesano
Teacher bio: http://peoplescolloquium.org/teacher-bios/
A Force More Powerful: Witnessing the success of nonviolent political action
Nonviolent political action, especially that advocated and practiced by Mohandas Gandhi, is controversial. In a time when a citizen’s role in a democratic society is under question, can nonviolent strategies be effective in addressing problems in today’s political realities?
Though it has been decades since America has witnessed such a movement, luckily some of Gandhi’s work and much of the nonviolent campaigns of the Civil Rights era in the United States have been well documented in pictures, films and narratives. “A Force More Powerful” is an award-winning documentary that bears witness to several examples of nonviolent political movements in the 20th century that were responsible for significant change to social and legal norms.
Before our discussion, we will watch two of these examples: Gandhi’s Salt March to the Sea to challenge the onerous British Salt tax and the campaign in Nashville, Tennessee, in the early months of 1960, led by Fish University students and, their mentor, James Lawson (a follower of Gandhi) to end the segregation of lunch counters in that city (both episodes will total to about 50 minutes).
Afterward, we will discuss such questions as:
– What were the factors in each campaign that seemed central to their success?
– How successful overall, were these strategies?
– Might such methods work for change in the United States (or other countries) now? Why or why not?
The episodes we will watch are the first two here: