...small group gathered at the front door of the church, lined up in twos. Then they walked out the doors, as if they were marching. There was an unforgettable silence as they passed out of the church. We watched as they walked through the howling crowd; I was sure I would never see them again. And yet, for all the yelling, the mob didn’t touch them — such is the power of nonviolence. About an hour passed. Suddenly, out of the darkness, they all reappeared, unharmed. Dr. King had convinced the cab drivers to abandon their mission. This was no small miracle. Dr. King showed through this act of courage in this most harrowing moment of the campaign that fear was not a factor for him. It was, at that point in the Freedom Rides, the greatest lesson he could have offered.
art work by Matt Rota for NYTIMES
Bernard Lafayette and King were philosophically nonviolent. Most of the activists who did participate in nonviolent resistance (NVR) during the movement were tactically nonviolent--they did not believe in the power of nonviolence to win over the hearts of their oppressors. Those who were tactically nonviolent adopted NVR because they knew it was the only way to defeat violence and money power. Either way--philosophically or tactically--the power of nonviolence has always been more effective more often than violence.