Get Free or Die Tryin’

We’ve seen the players in the past: John Brown and abolitionists, Nat Turner and slaves rebels, Malcolm X and civil rights revolutionaries. They stood for something. They also stood against something. These people not only had justice on their mind but had an image of how to go about bringing it to fruition. After hundreds of years spent in mental and physical bondage because a continent of white supremacists said it should be that way, you would think anything would be condoned by blacks for the sake of justice.

We had a great discussion in class about the use of violence and when it would be justified to counteract injustices being brought to a group of people. John Brown and his actions, discussed in detail by Thoreau, led us to believe that yes, indeed violence against slave-owners and slavery in general was legitimate. Students were expressing that it was morally wrong to hold someone in captivity against their will and force them into labor and a lifetime of servitude. I would agree. Students said in hindsight, we know slavery was a bad thing so whatever brought down slavery had to fly. I would agree with that, too. But what I suggest as legitimate goes much further than what slavery brought upon blacks centuries ago, and brings to light the injustice we see every day in this country.

Malcolm X and his compatriots did not see something that wasn’t there. They did not fight for rights that were not being stripped from them. Blacks in America did not feel the need to be militant because they were living amongst modest inequality. No. The damage had been done. Our entire country had been built and supplanted with a social order in which some people were inherently better than others, with no contemplation of what is right and what is wrong, what is fair and ill-matched, what separates a nation from natural inequality and xenophobia. All of which John Brown fought for before the Civil War and subsequent black leaders fought for during Reconstruction and an entire century following, stems from wretched abuse and deplorable exploitations of a group of people who were powerless. An entire race had been paralyzed by the actions of the very people we say built our country.

Look at the streets and prisons now, and tell me your race doesn’t not play telling part in your fate in this country. I think that non-violence only separates people further from the matters which need to be dealt with with as strong of force as what pulverized the very core of a people. Yes, Malcolm X was a radical. Yes, John Brown took the lives of other people. But not in the name of savagery, but in the name of morality. There are severe consequences to taking up in arms and serving the greater cause of humanity for the people for whom you live. If you aren’t running with it, you’re running from it, and if violence and barbarity are the only things that can solve the issues which confront us as a people, so be it.


About mrsawyer937

Native of Dayton, Ohio. Currently a Senior at the University of Michigan making optimistic ideas blossom into bona fide realities.
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2 Responses to Get Free or Die Tryin’

  1. eakunne5 says:

    I think this blog was very good because its the truth. Its easy to say that violence is the wrong path to fight injustice, even when dealing with the slavery and civil rights era, but violence really was the only way. Without the violence, there wouldnt be a sense of urgency, a sense of conflict, anf it wouldnt cause people to be conscious to what really is going on. People can’t be indifferent when violence is brought to the forefront with things that are ojectively wrong. Its better for people to realize their positions and then to be indifferent to what the results are. Blacks tried the civil way of protest and it didnt work, so they turned to violence. And after everyone agreed to stop the violence, the non violent protests gained their neccasary momentum..i.e MLK

  2. brandoneinstein says:

    Although I completely understand where the author is coming from, I must respectfully disagree. One quote that really struck me was when the author stated : “I think that non-violence only separates people further from the matters which need to be dealt with with as strong of force as what pulverized the very core of a people.” In fact, I think the opposite holds true. Violent acts, especially when attempting to prove a point, tend to perpetuate greater societal problems. Unfortunately, class, racial, and other forms of social division are deeply rooted in the portray of the media. The media does an awful job of simply relaying the news. Instead, the media facilitates prejudice and societal divides by classifying groups of people with violent acts. In other words, racism cannot be solved through violence, but rather is exacerbated because of it.

    In regards to Malcolm X and A Plea for Captain John Brown, both implemented a very radical method of perserving morality. But what exactly was accomplished? One may argue that the raid on Harper’s Ferry might have influenced the development of the Confederacy, but more directly, the violence was so unjustified that the Republican Party did all it could to disassociate themselves with Brown. Even the way in which Malcolm X was assassinated demonstrates the unjustified use of violence. (Malcolm X was murdered by a member of his own party – the Nation of Islam – prior to giving a speech in New York when a disturbance in the crowd broke out. Many of the attendees had weapons on them just as Malcolm X professed as being necessary for defense).

    Nonetheless, my point is that violence is rarely, if ever, justified. I would even go as far to say that even in times of war violence is unnecessary. Abraham Lincoln’s “Lyceum Address” suggests that a non-violent, appraisal for the laws is the best method for societal peace. “And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defense of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded. But all this even, is not the full extent of the evil”. Thus, adherence to the laws, and making proper use of the democratic system can bring about change in a justifiable way. Violence does not just fail to solve social problems, but it also significantly worsens them too.

    (I wasn’t sure how to include this picture within a comment, but I think this google image fully embodies my point. Unfortunately, it is a direct reaction stemming from an act of hatred.),r:0,s:0

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