‘A Force More Powerful’ is a six part series which tells one of the 20th century’s most important and least known stories – how non violent power overcame oppression and authoritarian rule. In South Africa in 1907, Mohandas Gandhi led Indian immigrants in a non violent fight for rights denied them by white rulers. The power that Gandhi pioneered has been used by underdogs on every continent and in every decade of the 20th century, to fight for their rights and freedom. Reviewing a century often called the most violent in human history, this powerful series is the story of millions who chose to battle the forces of brutality with non violent weapons – and won.
In 1930, Indian nationalists were impatient with British foot dragging on promises to move India toward self – rule and appointed Mohandas Gandhi to lead “the final struggle for freedom”. Relying on the non violent methods he had developed in South Africa, Gandhi led a 240 mile march to the sea coast, where he made a handful of sea salt and invited his countrymen to do likewise, in open violation of the British monopoly on salt production. Millions followed his example. His campaign of civil disobedience swept the country, forcing the British Viceroy to admit that his regime was losing control. Gandhi’s actions shattered India’s consent to foreign rule and set the country on the road to independence, which came in 1947. To future generations, Gandhi gave the weapon of non violent resistance.It is being continuously refined and developed.
In Fall 1959, Rev. James Lawson offered free evening classes on non violent action to university students in Nashville, Tenesseee with the goal of training and preparing them to desegregate the city’s business district. Lawson had spent three years in India learning about Mohandas Gandhi. Now he guided his Nashville students in a study of both the history and practice of non violent methods – to prepare them for their “sit ins” at down town stores. Lawson’s training helped the students endure the beatings and arrests, and lead a boycott, as they brought their struggle for civil rights to the steps of Nashville City hall and ultimately to the forefront of national attention – and won!
A black “uprising” against the injustice of apartheid – South Africa’s system of racial discrimination – began in 1984. Many young blacks knew they could not win by violence. They therefore organized at the grass roots – taking control of their own townships and making their grievances known to the White population. In the southern city of Port Elizabeth, a 27 year old youth organizer, led a boycott of white owned businesses in June 1985. By with holding their buying power the black population drove a wedge between the white business community and the apartheid regime. A second boycott began in 1986, when the regime failed to act on the boycotters’ political demands. A nationwide state of emergency was declared was imposed and continued for three years, making repression the main business of the regime and signaling that Apatheid was collapsing. In 1989, a new president, F.W.De Klerk released Nelson Mandela from the jail where he had been imprisoned for 27 long years, and negotiated a new constitution with him, which guaranteed equal rights for all South Africans. In 1994, Mandela became president in South Africa’s first democratic elections.