How did Martin Luther King Jr. use compromise to affect change in the Civil Rights Movement?  Give examples.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is an interesting question.  Dr. King used compromise in a variety of ways in order to deliver real and meaningful change to people of color during the Civil Rights Movement.  I think that it's important to make the distinction that Dr. King did not see compromise as "selling out" or surrendering all aspects of one's commitment.  Yet, he understood that there was a need to work within the system in order to ensure that there would be lasting legislative and social change in American society for people of color.  King's position of non-violent, yet active resistance to injustice was a method of opening dialogue with opposing forces.  Dr. King was more amenable to facilitating dialogue with those in the position of power in a much more open way than other factions of the Civil Rights Movement which were more oppositional to those in the position of power.  When Dr. King sits down with President Johnson over Civil Rights Legislation in 1964, it is an example of how his position possessed a greater degree of dialogue and constructive opening of productivity between both sides than someone like Malcolm X or Stokely Carmichael.  King's entire premise was based on being able to compromise with those who refused to acknowledge the voices of people of color without compromising on the need for social and political change for people of color.

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