It is important to acknowledge the history behind the African American quest for social equality. history there have been numerous African American supporters of peaceful protest. The most prominent however, was Martin Luther King Jr. and his movement of nonviolent civil action. Inspired by the belief that love and peaceful protest could eliminate social injustice, Martin Luther King, Jr., became the most influential black leader during the Civil Rights movement. He aroused whites and blacks alike to protest racial discrimination, poverty, and war. His vision transcended racial matters. As he said after Malcolm X's assassination, "We as a society have not learned to disagree without being violently disagreeable" (Davis, 1974.) In the international arena, when he won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, King argued that "the crucial political and moral question of our time" was "the need to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression" (Davis, 1974.) .
King had been impressed by the teachings of Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi on nonviolent resistance. King wrote, "I came to feel that this was the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom" (Davis, 1974.) During the Alabama bus boycott in 1955, King's home was vandalized and bombed, but he remained steadfast and persuaded his followers to remain nonviolent despite threats to their lives and property. Late in 1956 the United States Supreme Court forced desegregation of the buses. King believed that the boycott proved that "there is a new Negro in the South, with a new sense of dignity and destiny" (Davis, 1974.) His emphasis of peaceful protest is what many say contributed the Supreme Courts decision.