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Civil disobedience is also commonly thought to involve nonviolent resistance. The participants are viewed as respectfully opposing what they think are unfair laws and government commands. In some instances though, such as with the Occupy Wall Street movement, the respect diminishes and thing can turn violent.
I believe that Robert provided a wonderful definition of the term "civil disobedience." I think another way to define a term is to rename them. Therefore, for some, renaming "civil disobedience" as protest. By doing this, some may not find the term as overbearing. A current example of protest or "civil disobedience" would be the Occupy Wall Street "movement."
Civil disobedience is a peaceful way of protesting laws or policies to which one has a strong objection, usually a moral objection. As opposed to violent opposition, civil disobedience emphasizes using moral pressure rather than brute force as a way of changing laws or policies. Often, civil disobedience implies a willingness to go to jail for one's beliefs, or to refuse to retaliate against violence used by one's opponents. Martin Luther King is the great American example of someone who practiced civil disobedience.
It is important, as #2 suggests, to be aware of the wider meaning of such terms as abolitionists. Although historically we associate this word with those who opposed the institution of slavery and worked hard to eradicate it, nowadays this terms also means in its widest sense anybody that is implacably opposed to an particular belief or practice. Therefore you can be an abolitionist if you are, for example trying to end the death penalty.
Restrictive covenants were a way of creating segregation. They were clauses in things like contracts to buy houses. When you signed the contract (as a white person), you promised that you would never sell or rent the home to a black person. Thus, segregation was being a private choice as opposed to a law that was imposed by the government.
Abolitionists were opposed to the idea of slavery, but it is important to remember that this is not the only meaning. A person can be called abolitionist for other beliefs too - such as fighting to oppose ,or abolish, capital punishment or abortion. Abolitionists of any persuasion face a long fight on their hands to get clauses through legislation and to change laws.
and what is civil disobedience?
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