Infectious nonviolence: a comparative study of African American and Palestinian struggle for rights in the 20th century

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Hasan, Aziza
Owens, Robert M.

Nonviolent mass movements have played a significant role in bringing about change in the 20th century. They stood up to the very powers that oppressed them and helped those forces see a reality they were once blind to. Their strength in numbers and moral positioning helped “the other” empathize with their plight and in some cases join their cause for change. Two such movements were the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the first Palestinian Intifada in the 1980s. These two movements mobilized masses and transformed communities. While in many respects, they were very different; there are strands of similarity that weave through both movements. These commonalities began with a connection to nonviolence that preceded the movements themselves and proved essential foundations and building blocks for what was yet to come. Influenced by the work of Mahatma Gandhi and others in India, both African Americans and Palestinians sought guidance from the East. Of major significance, is the inspirational role African American civil rights played in influencing the Palestinian Intifada. Palestinian leaders were drawn to the success and example of black leaders who helped motivate a discontent base. Through a side-by-side comparison, the similarities are apparent; whether they are in mass demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, conversions of the other, or the struggle for education. The examination of these different elements in both movements through writings, newspaper coverage, opinion pieces, and personal accounts demonstrates just how much the 1960s black civil rights era impacted the Palestinian Intifada of the 1980s.

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Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of History.