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Q: Web sites about Famous People who have written about oppression ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Web sites about Famous People who have written about oppression
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: goofy166-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 12 Oct 2003 08:26 PDT
Expires: 11 Nov 2003 07:26 PST
Question ID: 265430
I am looking for a list of web sites and names of famous people who
have been imprisoned or falsely accused of crimes and who have written
extensively about how they managed to deal with there oppression;
people such as Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, George Jackson,
etc. I am looking for words of inspiration for a book, thoughts and
ideas that would help people maintain a state of grace while under
extreme pressure.

Request for Question Clarification by tehuti-ga on 12 Oct 2003 08:34 PDT
There are many potential candidates for this list.  How many web sites
would you find acceptable as an answer?

Clarification of Question by goofy166-ga on 12 Oct 2003 08:54 PDT
The list of web sites to be accepted should be 20 to 30 but the
quality of the site is just as important. I am looking for easy to
navigate sites that do not require huge amounts of time to find key
writings that focus on the subject of surviving in an oppressive
situation, particularly writings that focus on dealing with
maintaining ones sense of self when all around you people are saying
you are wrong, guilty, etc. I believe people like Galileo and Ptolemy
fit into this category but I don’t want links to the part of the sites
that zero in on the oppressive elements and writings, not just there
Subject: Re: Web sites about Famous People who have written about oppression
Answered By: hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 14:18 PDT

Starting in Antiquity, there was Socrates, who was executed by the
Athenians for a number of supposed crimes. Although he wrote nothing
himself, his defenders, among them Plato and Xenophon, published
memoirs that are thought to accurately represent the opinions of
Socrates regarding his personal integrity and approaching death.

Plato, The Apology of Socrates

"And although some of you may think that I am joking, I declare that I
will tell you the entire truth. Men of Athens, this reputation of mine
has come of a certain sort of wisdom which I possess. If you ask me
what kind of wisdom, I reply, wisdom such as may perhaps be attained
by every man, for to that extent I am inclined to believe that I am
wise; whereas the persons of whom I was speaking have a superhuman
wisdom, which I may fail to describe, because I have it not myself;
and he who says that I have, speaks falsely, and is taking away my
character. And here, O men of Athens, I must beg you not to interrupt
me, even if I seem to say something extravagant. For the word which I
will speak is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of
credit; that witness shall be the God of Delphi, he will tell you
about my wisdom, if I have any, and of what sort it is. You must have
known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of
yours, for he shared in the recent exile of the people, and returned
with you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his
doings, and he went to Delphi *2* <#NT2> and boldly asked the oracle
to tell him whether, as I was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt,
he asked the oracle to tell him whether any one was wiser than I was,
and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser.
Chaerephon is dead himself; but his brother, who is in court, will
confirm the truth of what I'm saying.

Why do I mention this? Because I am going to explain to you why I have
such an evil name. When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can
the god mean? and what is the interpretation of his riddle? for I know
that I have no wisdom, small or great. What then can he mean when he
says that I am the wisest of men? And yet he is a god, and cannot lie;
that would be against his nature. After long consideration, I thought
of a method of trying the question. I reflected that if I could only
find a man wiser than myself, then I might go to the god with a
refutation in my hand. I should say to him,' Here is a man who is
wiser than I am; but you said that I was the wisest.' Accordingly I
went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed him, his
name I need not mention; he was a politician whom first among I
selected for examination, and the result was as follows: When I began
to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really
wise, although he was thought wise by many, and still wiser by
himself; and thereupon I tried to explain to him that he thought
himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he
hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and
because I heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away:
conceit of Man, although I do not suppose that either of us knows
anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is, for he
knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that
I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the
advantage of him. Then I went to another who had still higher
pretensions to wisdom, and my conclusion was exactly the same.
Whereupon I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him.

Then I went to one man after another, being not unconscious of the
enmity which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: but necessity
was laid upon me, the word of God, I thought, ought to be considered
first. And I said to myself, I must go to all who appear to know, and
find out the meaning of the oracle. And I swear to you, Athenians, by
the dog I swear!, for I must tell you the truth, the result of my
mission was just this: I found that the men most in repute were all
but the most foolish; and that others less esteemed were really wiser
and better. I will tell you the whole of my wanderings and of the
'Herculean' labors, as I may call them, which I endured only to find
at last the oracle irrefutable. After the politicians, I went to the
poets; tragic, dithyrambic, and all sorts. And there, I said to
myself, you will be instantly detected; now you will find out that you
are more ignorant than they are. Accordingly, I took them some of the
most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the
meaning of them, thinking that they would teach me something. Will you
believe me? I am almost ashamed to confess the truth, but I must say
that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better
about their poetry than they did themselves. Then I knew that not by
wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration;
they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things,
but do not understand the meaning of them. The poets appeared to me to
be much in the same case; and I further observed that upon the
strength of their poetry they believed themselves to be the wisest of
men in other things in which they were not wise. So I departed,
conceiving myself to be superior to them for the same reason that I
was superior to the politicians.

At last I went to the artisans; I was conscious that I knew nothing at
all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and
here I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was
ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I
observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the
poets;, because they were good workmen they thought that they also
knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed
their wisdom; and therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle,
whether I would like to be as I was, neither having their knowledge
nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself
and to the oracle that I was better off as I was.

This inquisition has led to my having many enemies of the worst and
most dangerous kind, and has given occasion also to many calumnies.
And I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself
possess the wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O
men of Athens, that God only is wise; and by his answer he intends to
show that the wisdom of men is worth little or nothing; he is not
speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name by way of illustration,
as if he said, O men, he is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that
his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so I go about the world,
obedient to the god, and search and make enquiry into the wisdom of
any one, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if
he is not wise, then I show him that he is not wise; and my occupation
quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give attention to any public
matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter
poverty by reason of my devotion to the god."

A Virtual Learning Environment on the World-Wide Web
The Phaedo

2. Death and the Philosopher

"Then I must try to make a better impression upon you than I did when
defending myself before the judges. For I am quite ready to
acknowledge, Simmias and Cebes that I ought to be grieved at death, if
I were not persuaded [63c that I am going to other gods who are wise
and good (of this I am as certain as I can be of anything of the sort)
and to men departed (though I am not so certain of this) who are
better than those whom I leave behind; and therefore I do not grieve
as I might have done, for I have good hope that there is yet something
remaining for the dead, and, as has been said of old, some far better
thing for the good than for the evil."
"And now I will make answer to you, O my judges, and show that he who
has lived as a true philosopher has reason to be of good cheer [64a
when he is about to die, and that after death he may hope to receive
the greatest good in the other world. And how this may be, Simmias and
Cebes I will endeavor to explain. For I deem that the true disciple of
philosophy is likely to be misunderstood by other men; they do not
perceive that he is ever pursuing death and dying; and if this is
true, why, having had the desire of death all his life long, should he
repine at the arrival of that which he has been always pursuing and
"In this present life, I reckon that we make the nearest approach to
knowledge when we have the least possible concern or interest in the
body, and are not saturated with the bodily nature, but remain pure
until the hour when God himself is pleased to release us. And then the
foolishness of the body will be cleared away and we shall be pure and
hold converse with other pure souls, and know of ourselves the clear
light everywhere; [67b and this is surely the light of truth. For no
impure thing is allowed to approach the pure. These are the sort of
words, Simmias which the true lovers of wisdom cannot help saying to
one another, and thinking. You will agree with me in that?"
"But if this is true, O my friend, then there is great hope that,
going whither I go, I shall there be satisfied with that which has
been the chief concern of you and me in our past lives. And now that
the hour of departure is [67c appointed to me, this is the hope with
which I depart, and not I only, but every man who believes that he has
his mind purified."

Socrates' Apology by Xenophon

The Apology
By Xenophon

'"Strange, do you call it, that to God it should seem better for me to
die at once? Do you not know that up to this moment I will not concede
to any man to have lived a better life than I have; since what can
exceed the pleasure, which has been mine, of knowing[10] that my whole
life has been spent holily and justly? And indeed this verdict of
self-approval I found re-echoed in the opinion which my friends and
intimates have formed concerning me.[11] And now if my age is still to
be prolonged,[12] I know that I cannot escape paying[13] the penalty
of old age, in increasing dimness of sight and dulness of hearing. I
shall find myself slower to learn new lessons, and apter to forget the
lessons I have learnt. And if to these be added the consciousness of
failing powers, the sting of self- reproach, what prospect have I of
any further joy in living? It may be, you know," he added, "that God
out of his great kindness is intervening in my behalf[14] to suffer me
to close my life in the ripeness of age, and by the gentlest of
deaths. For if at this time sentence of death be passed upon me, it is
plain I shall be allowed to meet an end which, in the opinion of those
who have studied the matter, is not only the easiest in itself, but
one which will cause the least trouble to one's friends,[15] while
engendering the deepest longing for the departed."'

Part one of the Answer. Continued in the Clarification.


Clarification of Answer by hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 14:19 PDT

Surely the case of the slave Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher, must be
considered, for slavery is certainly oppressive.

Epictetus: Discourses (excerpt, part 2)
Book IV, Chapter 1: About Freedom

"He is free who lives as he wishes to live; who is neither subject to
compulsion nor to hindrance, nor to force; whose movements to action
are not impeded, whose desires attain their purpose, and who does not
fall into that which he would avoid. Who, then, chooses to live in
error? No man. Who chooses to live deceived, liable to mistake,
unjust, unrestrained, discontented, mean? No man. Not one then of the
bad lives as he wishes; nor is he, then, free. And who chooses to live
in sorrow, fear, envy, pity, desiring and failing in his desires,
attempting to avoid something and falling into it? Not one. Do we then
find any of the bad free from sorrow, free from fear, who does not
fall into that which he would avoid, and does not obtain that which he
wishes? Not one; nor then do we find any bad man free.

If, then, a man who has been twice consul should hear this, if you
add, "But you are a wise man; this is nothing to you": he will pardon
you. But if you tell him the truth, and say, "You differ not at all
from those who have been thrice sold as to being yourself not a
slave," what else ought you to expect than blows? For he says, "What,
I a slave, I whose father was free, whose mother was free, I whom no
man can purchase: I am also of senatorial rank, and a friend of
Caesar, and I have been a consul, and I own many slaves." In the first
place, most excellent senatorial man, perhaps your father also was a
slave in the same kind of servitude, and your mother, and your
grandfather and all your ancestors in an ascending series. But even if
they were as free as it is possible, what is this to you? What if they
were of a noble nature, and you of a mean nature; if they were
fearless, and you a coward; if they had the power of self-restraint,
and you are not able to exercise it.

"And what," you may say, "has this to do with being a slave?" Does it
seem to you to be nothing to do a thing unwillingly, with compulsion,
with groans, has this nothing to do with being a slave? "It is
something," you say: "but who is able to compel me, except the lord of
all, Caesar?" Then even you yourself have admitted that you have one
master. But that he is the common master of all, as you say, let not
this console you at all: but know that you are a slave in a great
family. So also the people of Nicopolis are used to exclaim, "By the
fortune of Caesar, we are free."
"Since, then, neither those who are called kings live as they choose,
nor the friends of kings, who finally are those who are free? Seek,
and you will find; for you have aids from nature for the discovery of
truth. But if you are not able yourself by going along these ways only
to discover that which follows, listen to those who have made the
inquiry. What do they say? Does freedom seem to you a good thing? "The
greatest good." Is it possible, then, that he who obtains the greatest
good can be unhappy or fare badly? "No." Whomsoever, then, you shall
see unhappy, unfortunate, lamenting, confidently declare that they are
not free. "I do declare it." We have now, then, got away from buying
and selling and from such arrangements about matters of property; for
if you have rightly assented to these matters, if the Great King is
unhappy, he cannot be free, nor can a little king, nor a man of
consular rank, nor one who has been twice consul."
"What, then, is that which makes a man free from hindrance and makes
him his own master? For wealth does not do it, nor consulship, nor
provincial government, nor royal power; but something else must be
"Think of these things, these opinions, these words: look to these
examples, if you would be free, if you desire the thing according to
its worth. And what is the wonder if you buy so great a thing at the
price of things so many and so great? For the sake of this which is
called "liberty," some hang themselves, others throw themselves down
precipices, and sometimes even whole cities have perished: and will
you not for the sake of the true and unassailable and secure liberty
give back to God when He demands them the things which He has given?
Will you not, as Plato says, study not to die only, but also to endure
torture, and exile, and scourging, and, in a word, to give up all
which is not your own? If you will not, you will be a slave among
slaves, even you be ten thousand times a consul; and if you make your
way up to the Palace, you will no less be a slave; and you will feel,
that perhaps philosophers utter words which are contrary to common
opinion, as Cleanthes also said, but not words contrary to reason. For
you will know by experience that the words are true, and that there is
no profit from the things which are valued and eagerly sought to those
who have obtained them; and to those who have not yet obtained them
there is an imagination that when these things are come, all that is
good will come with them; then, when they are come, the feverish
feeling is the same, the tossing to and fro is the same, the satiety,
the desire of things which are not present; for freedom is acquired
not by the full possession of the things which are desired, but by
removing the desire. And that you may know that this is true, as you
have laboured for those things, so transfer your labour to these; be
vigilant for the purpose of acquiring an opinion which will make you
free; pay court to a philosopher instead of to a rich old man: be seen
about a philosopher's doors: you will not disgrace yourself by being
seen; you will not go away empty nor without profit, if you go to the
philosopher as you ought, and if not, try at least: the trial is not

BOETHIUS (Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius)

Boethius . The Consolation of Philosophy

"'But do you not somehow know whence all things have their source? '

'Yes,' I said; ' that source is God.'

'Is it possible that you, who know the beginning of all things, should
not know their end?

But such are the ways of these distractions, such is their power, that
though they can move a man's position, they cannot pluck him from
himself or wrench him from his roots. But this question would I have
you answer: do you remember that you are a man? '

'How can I but remember that? '

'Can you then say what is a man? '

'Need you ask? I know that he is an animal, reasoning and mortal; that
I know, and that I confess myself to be.'

'Know you naught else that you are? ' asked Philosophy.

'Naught,' said I.

'Now,' said she,' I know the cause, or the chief cause, of your
sickness. You have forgotten what you are. Now therefore I have found
out to the full the manner of your sickness, and how to attempt the
restoring of your health. You are overwhelmed by this forgetfulness of
yourself: hence you have been thus sorrowing that you are exiled and
robbed of all your possessions. You do not know the aim and end of all
things; hence you think that if men are worthless and wicked, they are
powerful and fortunate. You have forgotten by what methods the
universe is guided; hence you think that the chances of good and bad
fortune are tossed about with no ruling hand. These things may lead
not to disease only, but even to death as well. But let us thank the
Giver of all health, that your nature has not altogether left you. We
have yet the chief spark for your health's fire, for you have a true
knowledge of the hand that guides the universe: you do believe that
its government is not subject to random chance, but to divine reason.
Therefore have no fear. From this tiny spark the fire of life shall
forthwith shine upon you. But it is not time to use severer remedies,
and since we know that it is the way of all minds to clothe themselves
ever in false opinions as they throw off the true, and these false
ones breed a dark distraction which confuses the true insight,
therefore will I try to lessen this darkness for a while with gentle
applications of easy remedies, that so the shadows of deceiving
passions may be dissipated, and you may have power to perceive the
brightness of true light.'

'When the stars are hidden by black clouds, no light can they afford.
When the boisterous south wind rolls along the sea and stirs the
surge, the water, but now as clear as glass, bright as the fair sun's
light, is dark, impenetrable to sight, with stirred and scattered
sand. The stream, that wanders down the mountain's side, must often
find a stumbling-block, a stone within its path torn from the hill's
own rock. So too shalt thou: if thou wouldst see the truth in undimmed
light, choose the straight road, the beaten path; away with passing
joys! away with fear! put vain hopes to flight! and grant no place to
grief! Where these distractions reign, the mind is clouded o'er, the
soul is bound in chains.'"

The Consolation of Boethius
by Sanderson Beck

Part two. Continued...

Clarification of Answer by hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 14:20 PDT

Martin Luther must be included, for though excommincated and outlawed,
he never recanted.

Diet of Worms

Martin Luther: Excerpts from his account of the confrontation at the
Diet of Worms (1521)

"However, since I am a man and not God, I cannot provide my writings
with any other defense than that which my Lord Jesus Christ provided
for His teaching. When He had been interrogated concerning His
teaching before Annas and had received a buffet from a servant, He
said: "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil." If the Lord
Himself, who knew that He could not err, did not refuse to listen to
witness against His teaching, even from a worthless slave, how much
more ought I, scum that I am, capable of naught but error, to seek and
to wait for any who may wish to bear witness against my teaching.

And so, through the mercy of God, I ask Your Imperial Majesty, and
Your Illustrious Lordships, or anyone of any degree, to defeat them by
the writings of the Prophets or by the Gospels; for I shall be most
ready, if I be better instructed, to recant any error, and I shall be
the first in casting my writings into the fire. . . .

Thereupon the Orator of the Empire, in a tone of upbraiding, said that
his [Luther's] answer was not to the point, and that there should be
no calling into question of matters on which condemnations and
decisions had before been passed by Councils. He was being asked for a
plain reply, without subtlety or sophistry, to this question: Was he
prepared to recant, or no?

Luther then replied: Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a
simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am
convicted [convinced] of error by the testimony of Scripture or (since
I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since
it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted
themselves) by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted [convinced] by
the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken
captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to
act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.

On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me."


Galileo, having been warned that he must not publish anything that
supported Copernican mechanics, wrote and published his Dialogues
concerning the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems. Sixteen years later,
aged 70, he was accused and summoned before the Holy Inquisition.
After a brief defense, he recanted and was permitted to retire into
permanent house arrest. Shortly before his recantation, however, he
wrote this to a friend:

Galileo to Diodati (January 15, 1633)

"...if I ask Froidmont whose works are the sun, the moon, the earth,
the stars, their arrangement, and their motions, I think he will
answer they are works of God; and if I ask from whose inspiration Holy
Scripture derives, I know he will answer that it comes from the Holy
Spirit, namely again God.  Thus, the world is the works, and the
Scripture is the words, of the same God.  Then let me ask him whether
the Holy Spirit has ever used, spoken, or pronounced words which, in
appearance, are very contrary to the truth, and whether this was done
to accommodate the capacity of the people, who are for the most part
very uncouth and incompetent.  I am very sure he will answer, together
with all sacred writers, that such is the habit of the Scripture; in
hundreds of passages the latter puts forth (for the said reason)
propositions which, taken in the literal meaning of the words, would
not be mere heresies, but very serious blasphemies, by making God
himself subject to anger, regret, forgetfulness, etc.  However,
suppose I ask him whether, to accommodate the capacity and belief of
the same people, God has ever changed his works; or whether nature is
God's inexorable minister, is deaf to human opinions and desires, and
has always conserved and continues to conserve her ways regarding the
motions, shapes, and locations of the parts of the universe.  I am
certain he will answer that the moon has always been spherical,
although for a long time common people thought it was flat; in short,
he will say that nothing is ever changed by nature to accommodate her
works to the wishes and opinions of men.  If this is so, why should
we, in order to learn about the parts of the world, begin our
investigations from the words rather than from the works of God?  Is
it perhaps less noble and lofty to work than to speak?  If Froidmont
or someone else had established that it is heretical to say the earth
moves, and that demonstrations, observations, and necessary
correspondences show it to move, in what sort of plot would he have
gotten himself and the Holy Church?  On the contrary, were we to give
second place to Scripture, if the works were shown to be necessarily
different from the literal meaning of the words, then this would in no
way be prejudicial to Scripture; and if to accommodate popular
abilities the latter has many times attributed the most false
characteristics to God himself, why should it be required to limit
itself to a very strict law when speaking of the sun and the earth,
thus disregarding popular incapacity and refraining from attributing
to these bodies properties contrary to those that exist in reality? 
If it were true that motion belongs to the earth and rest to the sun,
no harm is done to Scripture, which speaks in accordance with what
appears to the popular masses.

Many years ago, at the beginning of the uproar against Copernicus, I
wrote a very long essay showing, largely by means of the authority of
the Fathers, how great an abuse it is to want to use Holy Scripture so
much when dealing with questions about natural phenomena, and how it
would be most advisable to prohibit the involvement of Scripture in
such disputes; when I am less troubled, I shall send you a copy.  I
say less troubled because at the moment I am about to go to Rome,
summoned by the Holy Office, which has already suspended my Dialogue. 
From reliable sources I hear the Jesuit Fathers have managed to
convince some very important persons that my book is execrable and
more harmful to the Holy Church than the writings of Luther and
Calvin.  Thus I am sure it will be prohibited, despite the fact that
to obtain the license I went personally to Rome and delivered it into
the hands of the Master of the Sacred Palace; he examined it very
minutely (changing, adding, and removing as much as he wanted), and
after licensing it he also ordered it to be reviewed again here."

Galileo decided to preserve his life, rather than resist further. His
books were published outside the reach of the Inquisition in the
Protestant portions of Europe, apparently with his knowledge and
consent. It should be remembered that Giordano Bruno had been burnt at
the stake in Rome in February 1600 for defending his heretical
beliefs, among which were the support of the Copernican system and the
proposition that the universe was infinite (he also maintained a
number of beliefs in the efficacy of magic). It was, therefore,
understandable that Galileo took the opportunity to save himself.
Unlike Luther, Galileo had no refuge and no protector.

Founder of the Religious Socoiety of Friends (Quakers)

Autobiography of George Fox
A Year in Derby Prison

"While I was in the house of correction my relations came to see me;
and, being troubled for my imprisonment, they went to the justices
that cast me into prison and desired to have me home with them,
offering to be bound in one hundred pounds, and others of Derby in
fifty pounds apiece with them, that I should come no more thither to
declare against the priests.

So I was taken up before the justices; and because I would not consent
that they or any should be bound for me (for I was innocent of any ill
behaviour, and had spoken the Word of life and truth unto them),
Justice Bennet rose up in a rage; and, as I was kneeling down to pray
to the Lord to forgive him, he ran upon me, and struck me with both
his hands, crying, "Away with him, jailer; take him away, jailer."
Whereupon I was taken again to prison, and there kept till the time of
my commitment for six months was expired."
"The time of my commitment to the house of correction being very
nearly ended, and there being many new soldiers raised, the
commissioners would have made me captain over them; and the soldiers
cried out that they would have none but me. So the keeper of the house
of correction was commanded to bring me before the commissioners and
soldiers in the market-place, where they offered me that preferment,
as they called it, asking me if I would not take up arms for the
Commonwealth against Charles Stuart. I told them I knew whence all
wars arose, even from the lusts, according to James' doctrine; and
that I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the
occasion of all wars.

Yet they courted me to accept of their offer, and thought I did but
compliment them. But I told them I was come into the covenant of
peace, which was before wars and strifes were. They said they offered
it in love and kindness to me because of my virtue; and such-like
flattering words they used. But I told them, if that was their love
and kindness, I trampled it under my feet.

Then their rage got up, and they said, "Take him away, jailer, and put
him into the prison amongst the rogues and felons." So I was put into
a lousy, stinking place, without any bed, amongst thirty felons, where
I was kept almost half a year; yet at times they would let me walk to
the garden, believing I would not go away.

When they had got me into Derby prison, it was the saying of people
that I would never come out; but I had faith in God that I should be
delivered in His time; for the Lord had given me to believe that I was
not to be removed from that place yet, being set there for a service
which He had for me to do."

Part three. Continued...

Clarification of Answer by hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 14:24 PDT
In more modern times, Henry David Thoreau was famous not only for
Walden but for Civil Disobedience.

Civil Disobedience
by Henry David Thoreau - 1849
(Also known as Resistance to Civil Government, its original title.)

"[2]    How can a man be satisfied to entertain an opinion merely, and
enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is
aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor,
you do not rest satisfied with knowing that you are cheated, or with
saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you
your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full
amount, and see that you are never cheated again. Action from
principle—the perception and the performance of right —changes things
and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist
wholly with anything which was. It not only divides states and
churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual,
separating the diabolical in him from the divine.

[3]    Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall
we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or
shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a
government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have
persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should
resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault
of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It
makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for
reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and
resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be
on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have
them?  Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus
(2) and Luther,(3) and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

[4]    One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its
authority was the only offence never contemplated by government; else,
why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate,
penalty? If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine
shillings for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by
any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those
who placed him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine
shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again.

[5]    If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the
machine of government, let it go, let it go; perchance it will wear
smooth—certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a
spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself,
then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse
than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to
be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let
your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do
is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I

[6]    As for adopting the ways which the State has provided for
remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time,
and a man's life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I
came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live
in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to
do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not
necessary that he should do something wrong. It is not my business to
be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is
theirs to petition me; and if they should not hear my petition, what
should I do then? But in this case the State has provided no way; its
very Constitution is the evil. This may seem to be harsh and stubborn
and unconciliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and
consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. So
is an change for the better, like birth and death which convulse the
"[9]    Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true
place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place to-day, the
only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less
desponding spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of
the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by
their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican
prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his
race, should find them; on that separate, but more free and honorable
ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against
her—the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with
honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and
their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would
not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much
truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and
effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in
his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but
your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the
majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when
it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just
men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate
which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills
this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would
be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed
innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable
revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other
public officer, asks me, as one has done, "But what shall I do?" my
answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office."
When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned
his office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose
blood should flow. Is there not a sort of blood shed when the
conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and
immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see
this blood flowing now."
"[12]    Some years ago, the State met me in behalf of the Church, and
commanded me to pay a certain sum toward the support of a clergyman
whose preaching my father attended, but never I myself. "Pay," it
said, "or be locked up in the jail." I declined to pay. But,
unfortunately, another man saw fit to pay it. I did not see why the
schoolmaster should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest
the schoolmaster: for I was not the State's schoolmaster, but I
supported myself by voluntary subscription.  I did not see why the
lyceum (8) should not present its tax-bill, and have the State to back
its demand, as well as the Church. However, at the request of the
selectmen, I condescended to make some such statement as this in
writing:—"Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do
not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society which
I have not joined." This I gave to the town clerk; and he has it. The
State, having thus learned that I did not wish to be regarded as a
member of that church, has never made a like demand on me since;
though it said that it must adhere to its original presumption that
time. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off
in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did
not know where to find a complete list.

[13]    I have paid no poll-tax for six years. I was put into a jail
once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the
walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and
iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I
could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution
which treated me as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be
locked up. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that
this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to
avail itself of my services in some way. I saw that, if there was a
wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more
difficult one to climb or break through, before they could get to be
as free as I was. I did not for a moment feel confined, and the walls
seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all
my townsmen had paid my tax. They plainly did not know how to treat
me, but behaved like persons who are underbred. In every threat and in
every compliment there was a blunder; for they thought that my chief
desire was to stand the other side of that stone wall. I could not but
smile to see how industriously they locked the door on my meditations,
which followed them out again without let or hindrance, and they were
really all that was dangerous. As they could not reach me, they had
resolved to punish my body; just as boys, if they cannot come at some
person against whom they have a spite, will abuse his dog. I saw that
the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her
silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and
I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it."

Part four. Continued...

Clarification of Answer by hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 14:25 PDT
The struggle for racial equality has produced examplars around the
world. Among them are the Americans Frederick Douglass and Martin
Luther King, Jr., and the South Africans Steve Biko and Nelson


Frederick Douglass was a Maryland slave who escaped to freedom and
became a leading spokesman for the abolitionist cause. His three
autobiographies present a terrible account of the grievous conditions
of slavery as they existed in 19th Century America.

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress

Frederick Douglass Papers: In His Own Words

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

"I look upon my departure from Colonel Lloyd's plantation as one of
the most interesting events of my life. It is possible, and even quite
probable, that but for the mere circumstance of being removed from
that plantation to Baltimore, I should have to-day, instead of being
here seated by my own table, in the enjoyment of freedom and the
happiness of home, writing this Narrative, been confined in the
galling chains of slavery. Going to live at Baltimore laid the
foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity. I
have ever regarded it as the first plain manifestation of that kind
providence which has ever since attended me, and marked my life with
so many favors. I regarded the selection of myself as being somewhat
remarkable. There were a number of slave children that might have been
sent from the plantation to Baltimore. There were those younger, those
older, and those of the same age. I was chosen from among them all,
and was the first, last, and only choice.

I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotistical, in regarding this
event as a special interposition of divine Providence in my favor. But
I should be false to the earliest sentiments of my soul, if I
suppressed the opinion. I prefer to be true to myself, even at the
hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false,
and incur my own abhorrence. From my earliest recollection, I date the
entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be
able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of
my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope
departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me
through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer
thanksgiving and praise."
"Very soon after I went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Auld, she very
kindly commenced to teach me the A, B, C. After I had learned this,
she assisted me in learning to spell words of three or four letters.
Just at this point of my progress, Mr. Auld found out what was going
on, and at once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, telling her,
among other things, that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach
a slave to read. To use his own words, further, he said, "If you give
a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing
but to obey his master--to do as he is told to do. Learning would
spoil the best nigger in the world. Now," said he, "if you teach that
nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping
him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become
unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could
do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him
discontented and unhappy." These words sank deep into my heart,
stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into
existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special
revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my
youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain. I now
understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty--to wit,
the white man's power to enslave the black man. It was a grand
achievement, and I prized it highly. From that moment, I understood
the pathway from slavery to freedom. It was just what I wanted, and I
got it at a time when I the least expected it. Whilst I was saddened
by the thought of losing the aid of my kind mistress, I was gladdened
by the invaluable instruction which, by the merest accident, I had
gained from my master. Though conscious of the difficulty of learning
without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at
whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read. The very decided
manner with which he spoke, and strove to impress his wife with the
evil consequences of giving me instruction, served to convince me that
he was deeply sensible of the truths he was uttering. It gave me the
best assurance that I might rely with the utmost confidence on the
results which, he said, would flow from teaching me to read. What he
most dreaded, that I most desired. What he most loved, that I most
hated. That which to him was a great evil, to be carefully shunned,
was to me a great good, to be diligently sought; and the argument
which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read, only served to
inspire me with a desire and determination to learn. In learning to
read, I owe almost as much to the bitter opposition of my master, as
to the kindly aid of my mistress. I acknowledge the benefit of both."
"The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful,
was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in
the street. As many of these as I could, I converted into teachers.
With their kindly aid, obtained at different times and in different
places, I finally succeeded in learning to read. When t was sent of
errands, I always took my hook with me, and by going one part of my
errand quickly, I found time to get a lesson before my return. I used
also to carry bread with me, enough of which was always in the house,
and to which I was always welcome; for I was much better off in this
regard than many of the poor white children in our neighborhood. This
bread I used to bestow, upon the hungry little urchins, who, in
return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge. I am
strongly tempted to give the names of two or three of those little
boys, as a testimonial of the gratitude and affection I bear them; but
prudence forbids;--not that it would injure me, but it might embarrass
them; for it is almost an unpardonable offence to teach slaves to read
in this Christian country. It is enough to say of the dear little
fellows, that they lived on Philpot Street, very near Durgin and
Bailey's ship-yard. I used to talk this matter of slavery over with
them. I would sometimes say to them, I wished I could be as free as
they would be when they got to be men. "You will be free as soon as
you are twenty-one, but I am a slave for life! Have not I as good a
right to be free as you have?" These words used to trouble them; they
would express for me the liveliest sympathy, and console me with the
hope that something would occur by which I might be free.

I was now about twelve yearn old, and the thought of being a slave for
life began to bear heavily upon my heart. Just about this time, I got
hold of a book entitled "The Columbian Orator." Every opportunity I
got, I used to read this book. Among much of other interesting matter,
I found in it a dialogue between a master and his slave. The slave was
represented as having run away from his master three times. The
dialogue represented the conversation which took place between them,
when the slave was retaken the third time. In this dialogue, the whole
argument in behalf of slavery was brought forward by the master, all
of which was disposed of by the slave. The slave was made to say some
very smart as well as impressive things in reply to his master--things
which had the desired though unexpected effect; for the conversation
resulted in the voluntary emancipation of the slave on the part of the

In the same book, I met with one of Sheridan's mighty speeches on and
in behalf of Catholic emancipation. These were choice documents to me.
I read them over and over again with unabated interest. They gave
tongue to interesting thoughts of my own soul, which had frequently
flashed through my mind, and died away for want of utterance. The
moral which I gained from the dialogue was the power of truth over the
conscience of even a slaveholder. What I got from Sheridan was a bold
denunciation of slavery, and a powerful vindication of human rights.
The reading of these documents enabled me to utter my thoughts, and to
meet the arguments brought forward to sustain slavery; but while they
relieved me of one difficulty, they brought on another even more
painful than the one of which I was relieved. The more I read, the
more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them
in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left
their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in
a strange land reduced us to slavery. I loathed them as being the
meanest as well as the most wicked of men. As I read and contemplated
the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had
predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to
torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish. As I writhed under
it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse
rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched
condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit,
but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony, I envied
my fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a
beast. I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to my own. Any
thing, no matter what, to get rid of thinking! It was this everlasting
thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was no gutting rid
of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within sight or hearing,
animate or inanimate. The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul
to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more
forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing. It was
ever present to torment me with a sense of my wretched condition. I
saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and
felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled
in every, calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm.

I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself
dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I
should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have
been killed. While in this state of mind, I was eager to hear any one
speak of slavery. I was a ready listener. Every tittle while, I could
hear something about the abolitionists. It was some time before I
found what the word meant. It was always used in such connections as
to make it an interesting word to me. If a slave ran away and
succeeded in getting clear, or if a slave killed his master, set fire
to a barn, or did any thing very wrong in the mind of a slaveholder,
it was spoken of as the fruit of abolition. Hearing the word in this
connection very often, I set about learning what it meant. The
dictionary afforded me little or no help. I found it was "the act of
abolishing;" but then I did not know what was to be abolished. Hero I
was perplexed. I did not dare to ask any one about its meaning, for I
was satisfied that it was something they wanted me to know very little
about. Aider a patient waiting, I got one of our city papers,
containing an account of the number of petitions from the north,
praying for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and
of the slave trade between the States. From this time I understood the
words abolition and abolitionist, and always drew near when that word
was spoken, expecting to hear something of importance to myself and
fellow-slaves. The light broke in upon me by degrees. I went one day
down on the wharf of Mr. Waters; and seeing two Irishmen unloading a
scow of stone, I went, unasked, and helped them. When we had finished,
one of them came to me and asked me if I were a slave. I told him I
was. He asked, "Are ye a slave for life?" I told him that I was. The
good Irishman seemed to be deeply affected by the statement. He said
to the other that it was a pity so fine a little fellow as myself
should be a slave for life. He said it was a shame to hold me. They
both advised me to run away to the north; that I should find friends
there, and that I should be free. I pretended not to be interested in
what they said, and treated them as if I did not understand them; for
I feared they might be treacherous. White men have been known to
encourage slaves to escape, and then, to get the reward, catch them
and return them to their masters. I was afraid that these seemingly
good men might use me so; but I nevertheless remembered their advice,
and from that time I resolved to run away. I looked forward to a time
at which it would be safe for me to escape. I was too young to think
of doing so immediately; besides, I wished to learn how to write, as I
might have occasion to write my own pass. I consoled myself with the
hope that I should one day find a good chance. Meanwhile, I would
learn to write."

Part five. Continued...

Clarification of Answer by hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 14:26 PDT

Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

"But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.
Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages
and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of
their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of
Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of
the Greco-Roman world, so am I. compelled to carry the gospel of
freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond
to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities
and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about
what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied
in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects
all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow,
provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United
States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily
given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly,
I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed"
in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of
segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in
the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has
almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our
distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and
God-given rights... But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your
mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at
whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even
kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority
of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage
of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find
your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain
to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement
park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears
welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to
colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to
form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her
personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white
people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who
is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?";
when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep
night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile
because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and
day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your
first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however
old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and
mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are
harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro,
living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect
next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you
no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will
understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when
the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be
plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand
our legitimate and unavoidable impatience."
"I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out.
In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the
rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an
unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to
accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that
conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty
of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community
over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience.
It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and
Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a
higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early
Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating
pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of
the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today
because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the
Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience."
"I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need
emulate neither the "do-nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred
and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent
way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through
the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an
integral part of our struggle.

If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South
would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further
convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble-rousers" and
"outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action,
and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of
Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security
in black-nationalist ideologies a development that would inevitably
lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for
freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to
the American Negro."


The Essential Steve Biko

Black Consciousness and Pan-Africanism

"I think what we need in our society is the power by us blacks to
innovate. We have got the very system from which we can expand, from
which we can innovate, to say: this is what we believe, accept or not
accept . . . Cultures affect each other, like fashions, and you cannot
escape rubbing against someone else's culture. But you must have the
right to reject or not anything that is given to you."

"The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must
reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the
country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity."

"We are looking forward to a non-racial, just and egalitarian society
in which color, creed and race shall form no point of reference."

Story of Africa Section 12 Chapter 11

"I think basically Black Consciousness refers itself to the black man
and to his situation, and I think the black man is subject to two
forces in this country.

He is first of all oppressed by an external world through
institutionalised machinery, through laws that restrict him from doing
certain things, through heavy work conditions, through poor education,
these are all external to him, and secondly, and this we regard as the
most important, the black man in himself has developed a certain state
of alienation, he rejects himself, precisely because he attaches the
meaning white to all that is good..."

(The page also provides a link to a recording of Biko speaking to a
German interviewer before his arrest.)

Part six. Continued...

Clarification of Answer by hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 14:27 PDT

Nelson R. Mandela
Statement During the Rivonia Trial (1964)

"The complaint of Africans, however, is not only that they are poor
and the Whites are rich, but that the laws which are made by the
Whites are designed to preserve this situation. There are two ways to
break out of poverty. The first is by formal education, and the second
is by the worker acquiring a greater skill at his work and thus higher
wages. As far as Africans are concerned, both these avenues of
advancement are deliberately curtailed by legislation."
"The lack of human dignity experienced by Africans is the direct
result of the policy of White supremacy. White supremacy implies Black
inferiority. Legislation designed to preserve White supremacy
entrenches this notion. Menial tasks in South Africa are invariably
performed by Africans. When anything has to be carried or cleaned, the
White man will look around for an African to do it for him, whether
the African is employed by him or not. Because of this sort of
attitude, Whites tend to regard Africans as a separate breed. They do
not look upon them as people with families of their own; they do not
realize that they have emotions-that they fall in love like White
people do; that they want to be with their wives and children like
White people want to be with theirs; that they want to earn enough
money to support their families properly, to feed and clothe them and
send them to school. And what "house-boy" or "garden-boy" or laborer
can ever hope to do this?"
"Africans want to be paid a living wage. Africans want to perform work
which they are capable of doing, and not work which the Government
declares them to be capable of. Africans want to be allowed to live
where they obtain work, and not be endorsed out of an area because
they were not born there. Africans want to be allowed to own land in
places where they work, and not to be obliged to live in rented houses
which they can never call their own. Africans want to be part of the
general population, and not confined to living in their own ghettos.
African men want to have their wives and children to live with them
where they work, and not be forced into an unnatural existence in
men's hostels. African women want to be with their menfolk and not be
left permanently widowed in the reserves. Africans want to be allowed
out after 11 o'clock at night and not to be confined to their rooms
like little children. Africans want to be allowed to travel in their
own country and to seek work where they want to and not where the
Labor Bureau tells them to. Africans want a just share in the whole of
South Africa; they want security and a stake in society.

Above all, we want equal political rights, because without them our
disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to
the Whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be
Africans. This makes the White man fear democracy.

But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only
solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It
is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial
domination. Political division, based on color, is entirely artificial
and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one color group by

An early and controversial Black activist was the charismatic
immigrant, Marcus Garvey.


PBS: The American Experience - Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey: Look For Me in the Whirlwind

"Universal Negro Improvement Association We have no animus against the
white man. All that we have as a race desired is a place in the sun...
If sixty million Anglo-Saxons can have a place in the sun,... if sixty
million Japanese can have a place in the sun, if seven million
Belgians can have a place in the sun, I cannot see why...
four-hundred-million black folks cannot... If you believe that Africa
should be one vast empire, controlled by the Negro, then arise..."

Words of Marcus Mosiah Garvey
Message from Tombs Prison

"I am satisfied to be a victim of an international "frame-up," a
conspiracy, not only engaged in by members of the opposite race, but
including selfish and jealous members of my own. "It has taken my
enemies more than ordinary effort to injure my fair name. They have
tried to rob me of the precious treasure, but that cannot soil my soul
and conscience. "I am sorry that the name of the United States should
be drawn into a "frame-up" and conspiracy to "get me," but the
Government is not at fault. We have and must expect misrepresentations
in Government, as well as in other human activities; hence I shall not
entirely blame the Government for my present position."
"My work is just begun, and as I lay down my life for the cause of my
people, so do I feel that succeeding generations shall be inspired by
the sacrifice that I made for rehabilitation of our race. Christ died
to make men free, I shall die to give courage and inspiration to my
"True courage, bravery and real manhood cannot fail to show itself
when embodied in the individual. It has no time and no place, it is
ever evident. "Men and women who will bow, cringe and hide when the
cloud seems dark are those whom we should avoid in choosing leaders.
True leadership looks at dreadful odds, and smiles at them for the
cause that needs assistance. I say to you, cheer up."
"I have an abiding faith in the justice of the people, and believe
that when the truth is brought home to them they will not be slow to
register their protest against any and all acts of injustice. I need
not repeat that I have been "framed up" and sacrificed because of
prejudice and the political and organization designs of my enemies. I
believe that when my case is properly presented to the higher and
responsible officials of our government they will see that justice is
done, and that they will not hesitate in upholding the sacred
principles of the Constitution. America is founded upon truth, liberty
and justice, and these, I feel sure, will not be denied the lowest of
her citizens. I desire that you be peaceful and loyal in your assembly
and that you be mindful of the fact that I am always willing to suffer
for the cause of my race. and the general uplift of humanity. Be
cheerful, be loyal, be firm, be men, is the prayer of your humble and
obedient servant."

George Jackson was Black Panther, a militant reformer inside the
prison system.


Narratives: Prison Interviews
An Interview with George Jackson
(with Karen Wald)

Part seven. Continued...

Clarification of Answer by hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 14:29 PDT
The struggle for equality of the sexes also produced strong female
voices in England and America.


The Complete History of Woman's Suffrage

"I am not only here as a soldier temporarily absent from the field of
battle; I am here and that, I think, is the strangest part of my
coming I am here as a person who, according to the law courts of my
country, it has been decided, is of no value to the community at all;
and I am adjudged because of my life to be a dangerous person, under
sentence of penal servitude in a convict prison.

So you see there is some special interest in hearing so unusual a
person address you. I dare say, in the minds of many of you you will
perphaps forgive me this personal touch that I do not look either very
like a soldier or very like a convict, and yet I am both."
""Experience will show you that if you really want to get anything
done, it is not so much a matter of whether you alienate sympathy;
sympathy is a very unsatisfactory thing if it is not practical

It does not matter to the practical suffragist whether she alienates
sympathy that was never of any use to her.

What she wants is to get something practical done, and whether it is
done out of sympathy or whether it is done out of fear, or whether it
is done because you want to be comfortable again and not be worried in
this way, doesn't particularly matter so long as you get it.

"We had enough of sympathy for fifty years; it never brought us
anything; and we would rather have an angry man going to the
government and saying, my business is interfered with and I won't
submit to its being interfered with any longer because you won t give
women the vote, than to have a gentleman come onto our platforms year
in and year out and talk about his ardent sympathy with woman

" 'Put them in prison,' they said; 'that will stop it.' But it didn't
stop it.

"They put women in prison for long terms of imprisonment, for making a
nuisance of themselves that was the expression when they took
petitions in their hands to the door of the House of Commons; and they
thought that by sending them to prison, giving them a day s
imprisonment, would cause them to all settle down again and there
would be no further trouble.

"But it didn t happen so at all: instead of the women giving it up,
more women did it, and more and more and more women did it until there
were three hundred women at a time, who had not broken a single law,
only 'made a nuisance of themselves' as the politicians say.

"The whole argument with the anti-suffragists, or even the critical
suffragist man, is this: that you can govern human beings without
their consent.

They have said to us, 'Government rests upon force; the women haven't
force, so they must submit.'

"Well, we are showing them that government does not rest upon force at
all; it rests upon consent.

As long as women consent to be unjustly governed, they can be; but
directly women say: 'We withhold our consent, we will not be governed
any longer so long as that government is unjust,' not by the forces of
civil war can you govern the very weakest woman.

"You can kill that woman, but she escapes you then; you cannot govern

And that is, I think, a most valuable demonstration we have been
making to the world. Now, I want to say to you who think women cannot
succeed, we have brought the government of England to this position,
that it has to face this alternative; either women are to be killed or
women are to have the vote."

Modern History Sourcebook:
Emmeline Pankhurst:
Militant Suffragist, 1913

"Now, I want to say to you who think women cannot succeed, we have
brought the government of England to this position, that it has to
face this alternative; either women are to be killed or women are to
have the vote."

E. Sylvia Pankhurst
Suffragettes 1913

"Thirty of us appeared at Bow Street next morning; some charged with
obstruction, others with window breaking and damage to pillar-boxes. I
applied for an adjournment "to take legal advice," purely to gain time
to make arrangements for the East End campaign. When my case came up a
week later I tried to concentrate attention on the cruel treatment of
Mrs. Drummond and police violence in general. I obtained an admission
from Superintendent Wells, whom I put in the witness-box, that if a
policeman threw a woman down "he was exceeding his orders and his
duty." He promised that my statement that Mrs. Drummond had been so
treated would be investigated. Sir Albert de Rutzen, the old
Magistrate with his half-shut eyes, who always reminded me of a
tortoise, ordered me 40s. or fourteen days. I said I would accept
neither fine nor sentence, and began a hunger and thirst strike, but
the W.S.P.U. paid all our fines anonymously without consulting us, and
we came out of prison. It was the policy of the Union now to do this
wherever possible."

Guardian Century 1899-1909
Miss Pankhurst and the police,6051,126368,00.html

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were American

Argument for the Defense Concerning Legal Issues in the Case of United
States vs Susan B. Anthony

PBS:Not for Ourselves Alone:The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and
Susan B. Anthony-Resources
Solitude of Self

[On January 18, 1892, Elizabeth Cady Stanton delivered her Solitude of
Self address to the Congressional Judiciary Committee.]

"The point I wish plainly to bring before you on this occasion is the
individuality of each human soul; our Protestant idea, the right of
individual conscience and judgment—our republican idea, individual
citizenship. In discussing the rights of woman, we are to consider,
first, what belongs to her as an individual, in a world of her own,
the arbiter of her own destiny, an imaginary Robinson Crusoe with her
woman Friday on a solitary island. Her rights under such circumstances
are to use all her faculties for her own safety and happiness.

Secondly, if we consider her as a citizen, as a member of a great
nation, she must have the same rights as all other members, according
to the fundamental principles of our Government.

Thirdly, viewed as a woman, an equal factor in civilization, her
rights and duties are still the same—individual happiness and
development. Fourthly, it is only the incidental relations of life,
such as mother, wife, sister, daughter, that may involve some special
duties and training. In the usual discussion in regard to woman’s
sphere, such a man as Herbert Spencer, Frederic Harrison, and Grant
Allen uniformly subordinate her rights and duties as an individual, as
a citizen, as a woman, to the necessities of these incidental
relations, some of which a large class of woman may never assume. In
discussing the sphere of man, we do not decide his rights as an
individual, as a citizen, as a man by his duties as a father, a
husband, a brother, or a son, relations some of which he may never
fill. Moreover he would be better fitted for these very relations and
whatever special work he might choose to do to earn his bread by the
complete development of all his faculties as an individual."
"The isolation of every human soul and the necessity of
self-dependence must give each individual the right to choose his own
surroundings. The strongest reason for giving woman all the
opportunities for higher education, for the full development of her
faculties, forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged
freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms
of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the
crippling influences of fear, is the solitude and personal
responsibility of her own individual life. The strongest reason why we
ask for woman a voice in the government under which she lives; in the
religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she
is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she
may earn her bread, is because of her birthright to self-sovereignty;
because, as an individual, she must rely on herself. No matter how
much women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much
men desire to have them do so, they must make the voyage of life
alone, and for safety in an emergency they must know something of the
laws of navigation. To guide our own craft, we must be captain, pilot,
engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to match the
wind and waves and know when to take in the sail, and to read the
signs in the firmament over all. It matters not whether the solitary
voyager is man or woman."
"The chief reason for opening to every soul the doors to the whole
round of human duties and pleasures is the individual development thus
attained, the resources thus provided under all circumstances to
mitigate the solitude that at times must come to everyone. I once
asked Prince Krapotkin, the Russian nihilist, how he endured his long
years in prison, deprived of books, pen, ink, and paper. “Ah,” he
said, “I thought out many questions in which I had a deep interest. In
the pursuit of an idea I took no note of time. When tired of solving
knotty problems I recited all the beautiful passages in prose or verse
I have ever learned. I became acquainted with myself and my own
resources. I had a world of my own, a vast empire, that no Russian
jailor or Czar could invade.” Such is the value of liberal thought and
broad culture when shut off from all human companionship, bringing
comfort and sunshine within even the four walls of a prison cell."

Part eight. Continued...

Clarification of Answer by hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 14:30 PDT
Those who resisted for Human Rights also suffered oppression. Among
them are Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Aung San Suu Kyi.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"In the years since his death, the Protestant theologian Dietrich
Bonhoeffer has become widely known as one of the few Christian martyrs
in a history otherwise stained by Christian complicity with Nazism.
Executed in the Flossenb¸rg concentration camp on April 9, 1945 for
his role in the resistance against Hitler, Bonhoeffer's letters and
theological works still influence Christians throughout the world."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Letters and Papers from Prison
By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"A spiritual heritage reaching back for centuries is a wonderful
and comfort in face of all temporary stresses and strains. I believe
that the man who is aware of such reserves of power need not be
of the tender feelings evoked by the memory of a rich and noble past,
for such feelings belong in my opinion to the better and nobler part
"But, frankly speaking, to long for the transcendent when you are in
your wife's arms is, to put it mildly, a lack of taste., and it is
certainly not what God expects of us. We ought to find God and love
him in the blessings he sends us. If he pleases to grant us some
overwhelming earthly bliss, we ought not to try and be more religious
than God himself. For then we should spoil that bliss by our
presumption and arrogance; we should be letting our religious
fantasies run riot and refusing to be satisfied with what he gives.
Once a man has found God in his earthly bliss and thanked him for it,
there will be plenty of opportunities for him to remind himself that
these earthly pleasures are only transitory and that it is good for
him to accustom himself to the idea of the eternity and there will be
more hours in which he can say with all sincerity, 'I would that I
were home'.

"But everything in its season, and the important thing is to keep step
with God, and not get a step or two in front of him (nor for that
matter, a step or two behind him either). It is arrogance to want to
have everything at once--matrimonial bliss, and the cross, and the
heavenly Jerusalem., where there is no marriage, nor giving in
marriage. 'To everything there is a season' (Ecclesiastes 3)."
"I think we should live even in this place as though we had no desires
and no future to hope for, and just be our true selves. It is
remarkable what an influence one acquires in this way over other men.
. . . We can have a full life even when we haven't got everything we
want--that is what I am really trying to say."

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from Burma.

Burma's Iron 'Aunty'
Aung San Suu Kyi's Steely Will Keeps a Country's Hopes Alive

""They are killing our mother!" the activists shouted, referring again
to Suu Kyi.

"She refused to run," recalls Wunna Maung, a 26-year-old bodyguard.
Her driver finally floored the gas pedal and rocketed them out of the

But Suu Kyi was captured less than two miles away. For almost four
months, she was held incommunicado in an undisclosed location. She was
returned home Sept. 26, to house arrest yet again -- she has spent
almost eight of the last 14 years detained.

The international community demands her freedom. The United States has
imposed economic sanctions on Burma. This petite, fragile-looking
58-year-old woman with blossoms woven in her hair, a "prettier version
of Mahatma Gandhi," one friend calls her, has become the sole
repository for the Burmese people's hopes."

Aung San Suu Kyi  Acceptance Speech

"We must also remember that the lonely struggle taking place in a
heavily guarded compound in Rangoon is part of the much larger
struggle, worldwide, for the emancipation of the human spirit from
political tyranny and psychological subjection. The Prize, I feel
sure, is also intended to honour all those engaged in this struggle
wherever they may be. It is not without reason that today's events in
Oslo fall on the International Human Rights Day, celebrated throughout
the world."
"I know that if she were free today my mother would, in thanking you,
also ask you to pray that the oppressors and the oppressed should
throw down their weapons and join together to build a nation founded
on humanity in the spirit of peace.

Although my mother is often described as a political dissident who
strives by peaceful means for democratic change, we should remember
that her quest is basically spiritual. As she has said, "The
quintessential revolution is that of the spirit", and she has written
of the "essential spiritual aims" of the struggle. The realisation of
this depends solely on human responsibility. At the root of that
responsibility lies, and I quote, "the concept of perfection, the urge
to achieve it, the intelligence to find a path towards it, and the
will to follow that path if not to the end, at least the distance
needed to rise above individual limitation... ". "To live the full
life," she says, "one must have the courage to bear the responsibility
of the needs of others ? one must want to bear this responsibility."
And she links this firmly to her faith when she writes, "...Buddhism,
the foundation of traditional Burmese culture, places the greatest
value on man, who alone of all beings can achieve the supreme state of
Buddhahood. Each man has in him the potential to realize the truth
through his own will and endeavour and to help others to realize it."
Finally she says, "The quest for democracy in Burma is the struggle of
a people to live whole, meaningful lives as free and equal members of
the world community. It is part of the unceasing human endeavour to
prove that the spirit of man can transcends the flaws of his nature.""



"I hope you have read my letter to the Viceroy as also my letter in
reply to Mr. Pratt’s speech. They contain in the briefest form my
views on Government and the philosophy of life, and the one to the
Viceroy shows in the vividest form the view I take of the law of love
and suffering. Passive Resistance expresses the idea in the crudest
form. Indeed, I dislike the phrase as a weapon of the weak. It totally
misrepresents the law of love. Love is the epitome of strength. Love
flows the freeliest only when there is entire absence of fear.
Punishments of the loved ones are like balm to the soul."

Mohandas K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence

Audiofile of address by Gandhi


Essays by Prisoners

Mohandas Gandhi
On wealth distribution

Mohandas Gandhi: The cooperation of victims  (Open letter to Adolf

"Ours is an unarmed revolt against British rule. But whether we
convert them or not, we are determined to make their rule impossible
by nonviolent noncooperation. It is a method in its nature
undefeatable. It is based upon the knowledge that no spoliator can
compass his end without a certain degree of cooperation, willing or
compulsory, from the victim. Our rulers may have our land and bodies
but not our souls. They can have the former only by complete
destruction of every Indian -- man, woman or child.

That all may not rise to that degree of heroism and that a fair amount
of frightfulness can bend the back of revolt is true; but the argument
would be beside the point. For, if a fair number of men and women can
be found in India who would be prepared, without any ill-will against
the spoliators, to lay down their lives rather than bend the knee to
them, they will have shown the way to freedom from the tyranny of
violence. I ask you to believe me when I say that you will find an
unexpected number of such men and women in India. They have been
having that training for the past 20 years.

In nonviolent technique, as I have said, there is no such thing as
defeat. It is all "do or die," without killing or hurting. It can be
used practically without money and obviously without the aid of the
science of destruction which you have brought to such perfection. It
is a marvel to me that you do not see that is nobody's monopoly. If
not the British, then some other power will certainly improve upon
your method and beat you with your own weapon. You are leaving no
legacy to your people of which they would feel proud, They cannot take
pride in a recital of cruel deeds, however skilfully planned. I
therefore appeal to you in the name of humanity to stop the war . . .
. "



SEE also:

Steve Biko Foundation

The Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center

The National Archives Learning Curve | Britain 1906-18 | Case ...

Sanger, Margaret. 1920. Woman and the New Race

PBS - The Good War: Behind Bars


Clarification of Answer by hlabadie-ga on 15 Oct 2003 15:02 PDT
It would be remiss to omit Shirin Ebadi, the recent recipient of the Peace Prize.

Shirin Ebadi: Evin prision is not that bad

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