A Force More Powerful

DVD

6 episodes, 30 minutes each
Source: Aforcemorepowerful.org

This series uses archival footage to present six stories of nonviolent movements around the world. Each includes interviews with witnesses, survivors, and unsung heroes who contributed to these century-changing events.

1. Nashville: “We Were Warriors”
In Fall 1959, James Lawson offered free evening classes on nonviolent action to university students in Nashville 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 students in a study of both the history and practice of nonviolent methods to prepare them for their "sit-ins" at downtown stores. Lawson's guidance 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.

2. India: “Defying the Crown”
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 nonviolent methods he developed in South Africa, Gandhi empowered millions who followed his example. His campaign of civil disobedience swept the country, forcing the British to admit that their regime was losing control.

3. South Africa: “Freedom in Our Lifetime”
In South Africa, a black "uprising" against the injustice of apartheid began in 1984. Many young blacks knew they could not win by violent force. Instead, they organized at the grassroots level, taking control of their own townships and making their grievances known to the white population. By withholding their buying power, the black population drove a wedge between the white business community and the apartheid regime. A nationwide state of emergency was imposed and continued for three years. In 1989, a new president, F. W. De Klerk, released Nelson Mandela and negotiated a new constitution, which guaranteed equal rights for all South Africans.

4. Denmark: “Living with the Enemy”
When Adolf Hitler's forces invaded Denmark on April 9, 1940, the Danish government knew that a military response would be suicidal for Denmark's small armed forces. Danish leaders decided to adopt a strategy of resistance disguised as collaboration. By delaying and obstructing German operations, Danes systematically undermined the invaders' objectives. In the end, Denmark did not defeat Germany, but it survived and contributed more to the war effort through nonviolent resistance than Danish arms could ever have achieved.

5. Poland: We’ve Caught God by the Arm”
In August 1980, workers at the Gdansk shipyard went on strike. Lech Walesa, as the chief negotiator for the workers, avoided the mistakes of earlier strikes by maintaining strict nonviolent discipline and by occupying their shipyard to deter a violent crackdown by authorities. The strike quickly spread throughout the country and a new union named "Solidarity" was born. The government imposed martial law and banned the union, which continued its work underground until 1989, when it re-emerged as a revitalized political force and won decisively in Poland's first free elections in 60 years.

6. Chile: “Defeat of a Dictator”
General Augusto Pinochet seized power in Chile in a 1973 military coup and banned political parties, closed newspapers, and spread fear throughout the country as disappearances, torture, and imprisonment became common. In 1983, an economic crisis pushed many Chileans to oppose the dictator for the first time. Copper miners called for a nonviolent national protest day against Pinochet. Mainstream opposition parties re-emerged after ten years and staged frequent non-violent demonstrations. They realized that the constitution Pinochet wrote in 1980 called for a plebiscite--a chance for people to vote yes or no on another eight years of military rule. Pinochet had always assumed he would win, but the opposition ran a bold, future-oriented "No" campaign. In 1988, Pinochet was voted out.

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