35 – Nonviolent March Qualities
Extrapolated directly from the writings of Gandhi and King
1963 The March from Selma to Montgomery (Perhaps the most famous protest march in U.S. history)
1. A march has a specific, narrowly-focused, clearly-stated goal.
2. A march is not an end in itself but one tactic in a total strategy to reach a specific goal.
3. A march is only called for after negotiations have broken down with an adversary and then only to compel the adversary back to negotiations.
4. A march is costly to volunteers and the organizations they represent (in time, money, and energy). That cost must be honestly and openly considered before the march is called.
5. A march is timed for maximum effect.
6. A march must require risk, courage, and stamina for the marcher (to demonstrate the marcher’s total commitment and genuine concern).
7. A march is a serious-minded attempt to persuade the adversary that your request is just. A march based on the principles of nonviolence as described by Gandhi and King is not a parade, a party, or a celebration that may confuse the adversary or even give the adversary more reason to hate or fear the marchers.
8. A marcher must be carefully trained in the goal(s) of the march and sign a pledge to maintain standards of behavior and dress that will convince the adversary that the marcher is determined and sincere.
9. A march is not called to support a candidate, party, or issue which may divide the marchers but a specific goal or purpose upon which the marchers are united.
10. A march must focus the print and electronic media on the specific, clearly-stated, narrowly- focused goal before, during, and after the march to avoid any confusion as to why the march has been called.
11. A march must be directed by carefully trained monitors and before the march all marchers must agree to obey those monitor’s commands.
12. A march must not seek to embarrass, coerce or terrorize the adversary, but quietly, calmly, and
courageously convince the adversary that the marcher’s goal is just.
13. A marcher must understand the principles of nonviolence and pledge to refrain from violence of fist, tongue or heart during the march.
14. Gandhi says a marcher “must be a person of faith.” King says a marcher “must meditate daily on the life and teachings of Jesus.” Soulforce says “Wherever you are on your journey of faith you are welcome to march with us but only if you are willing to sign and abide by our Nonviolence Vow.”
NOTE: Remember that neither Gandhi nor King required sectarian allegiance to any one statement of faith or religious practice. It is well know that thousands marched with Gandhi, King and with Soulforce who did not consider themselves “people of faith” or were “recovering” from bad faith experiences.