traditionalist historian like Oates could use this source to support their
theory, as King sets the precedent to protest peacefully and use non-violent
means to achieve their aims, shown by the statement where King says that they
won’t defy the constitution. The peaceful nature of the CRM’s protests is one
of the key reasons it succeeded, as the multiple Presidents were very open to
listening to peaceful leaders like King, but were opposed to violent
demonstrations, e.g. Black Panthers. Therefore, the traditionalist would argue
that King pointed the movement in the right direction, and was therefore a key
reason for the success.
source originates from 5th December 1955, just four days after Rosa
Parks’ arrest for refusing to vacate her seat. It was also the start of the bus
boycott, meaning the congregation at the church was the event which decided the
bus boycott would continue, after the first day’s successful boycott. The
boycott would continue for 381 days, before ending with the desegregation of
buses in Montgomery. A traditionalist would use this to show that King was the
prompt which started the bus boycott, and arguably the whole movement. However,
a revisionist may look further and see that Jo Ann Robinson and the Women’s
Political Council organised the first day’s protest, showing the whole movement
started as a result of people on the ground.
source comes straight from King, meaning it is a reliable source to show how
King inspired the masses to avoid the buses for a year. The tone is very
inspirational and uplifting to lift the spirits of those in attendance to
succeed in protest, showing how King helped make this protest a success,
something that Oates would use to back his theory.
traditionalist would argue that King’s inspirational speech from the source
gave the people the determination to take part in the boycott, as he mentions
that they’re acting within the law, that they are nothing like the white
supremacist groups and that they are united. However, a revisionist would look
at how he was inspiring the people because he knew he needed people on the
ground to make the boycott a success, therefore making the people the most
important reason for the movement’s success.
the source is limited as it is King’s speech directly, we can’t see the
people’s reactions. The traditionalist would work around the limitation, and
see that the boycott stemmed from this, and therefore the reaction is
irrelevant, as King’s desired outcome was achieved, therefore making King the
prime reason for the movement’s success, as he led the first real change. The
revisionist would however state that King’s speech needed a positive reaction
to be successful, and therefore King can’t be successful without the people.
this speech, King was widely established as the key figure in the CRM,
providing various speeches and becoming the focal point of the movement. This
is shown in the Student Non-violence Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) letter to
King in June 1960.