When Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he used his speech to reflect on his achievements so far, as well as the achievements of the civil rights movement more generally. To get a sense of the central idea, take a look at the third paragraph— ...
When Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he used his speech to reflect on his achievements so far, as well as the achievements of the civil rights movement more generally. To get a sense of the central idea, take a look at the third paragraph—specifically, this section:
I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time—the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.
In other words, King is saying that being awarded the Peace Prize has made him realize that not using violence is the correct way to carry out the civil rights campaign.
It is clear that King drew inspiration for nonviolence from the protest movements in India because he directly references India in his speech. Instead of seeing the lack of violence in this movement as an example of “sterile passivity,” King realized that this was, in fact, a powerful way of making yourself heard. In addition, for King, it makes sense that if you want to live in an equal and tolerant world, you must start from a place of love, not a place of violence and oppression.
As the speech continues, King further validates his central idea that nonviolence is the answer to social change. He references the Civil Rights Bill, for example, which was a significant achievement. It is his belief that as African Americans continue to preach love and peace, that Bill will be extended to improve more facets of American society.
Finally, King references the Bible in his justification of nonviolence by quoting the passage about the lion and the lamb lying down together. For King, then, peaceful protest is not only vindicated through the receipt of this award but by God himself.