HIDDEN HISTORIES OF NONVIOLENCE
The award winning documentary film, A Force More Powerful, is a six part series that tells the stories of nonviolent movements that took place around the world in the 20th century – the US Civil Rights Movement, India’s Independence Struggle, Chile’s Anti-Dictatorship Struggle, Danish Resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II, Poland’s Solidarity Movement, and South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Struggle.
The film is inspired by the book, A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, which looks at nonviolent movements in Denmark, Chile, the United States, El Salvador, Mongolia, Poland, among other countries. Read the introduction to the book, where Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall lay the groundwork for why nonviolent resistance has been a too often forgot method of struggle.
“At the end of the last century, the world’s airwaves and bookstores were full of material that looked back at what was called the most destructive hundred years in history. In reel after reel, and on page after page, we were shown the carnage, the awful cost, it was said, of defeating evil. But told only that way, the history of the century’s conflicts would reinforce a terrible fallacy: that only violence can overcome violence, that the struggles with the highest stakes have to be settled by force of arms. Yet if that were true, how was it possible that in the same century, rulers and oppressors having every conceivable advantage in violent force were pushed aside on every continent by people who did not resort to violence?” (Ackerman & DuVall, 9)
Reflection Question: Do you think there is an overemphasis on violent conflict in history when compared to nonviolent conflict? If so, why do you think this is? Why a greater focus on violence? If not, what kinds of nonviolent movements have helped shape your understanding of history?
- “A Force More Powerful” Study Guide
- York, Steve. A Force More Powerful. A Force More Powerful Films: September 1, 2000.
- Nelson, Stanley. Freedom Riders. Firelight Films. WGBH Educational Foundation: 2011.