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We Shall Not Be Moved

a small sampling of 20th century prisoners of conscience

"We also tend to lay stress differently than Gandhi on the phases of civil disobedience. We tend to think breaking the law is the core of it. But, to Gandhi, the core of it was going to prison. Breaking the law was mostly just a way to get there."

  • --Mahatma Gandhi and His Myths

    by Mark Shepard

    Arrested many times, Gandhi spent a total of seven years in prison. See also Mahatma Gandhi

  • Bertrand Russell

    Jailed for six months in 1918 for writing anti-war article; while imprisoned, writes Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy and begins The Analysis of Mind.

    Ricardo Flores Magon

    Mexican anarchist intellectual, published Regeneracion in Los Angeles, died in Leavenworth Prison in 1922, imprisoned under the Espionage Act. See also SIN JEFES [Without Bosses].

  • In 1961-62, activist and folk singer

  • Pete Seeger spent months in jail for contempt of congress. Can you believe that? Let's say they locked up everyone who is in contempt of congress. They'd have to turn the whole country into a prison! They could set aside a little area for those who don't have contempt for congress, fence it off, and call THAT freedom. I figure it would have about half a dozen residents: three or four sitting members and a couple of others, at most.

  • I just referred to the creation of tension as a part of the work of the nonviolent resister. This may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

  • --Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Letter from the Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963



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