Dr. King’s legacy includes a six-step strategy for developing a nonviolent campaign.  These steps are not necessarily linear in their application but coterminous; each continues throughout the campaign. Each of the steps is present in every aspect of the nonviolent campaign.  They are presented separately here for better understanding.


Step One:  Information Gathering


The way you determine the facts, the options for change, and the timing of pressure for raising the issue is a collective process.


Step Two:  Education


Is the process of developing articulate leaders, who are knowledgeable about the issues.  It is directed toward the community through all forms of media about the real issues and human consequences of an unjust situation.


Step Three:  Personal Commitment


Means looking at your internal and external involvement in the nonviolent campaign and preparing yourself for long-term as well as short-term action.


Step Four:  Negotiation


Is the art of bringing together your views and those of your opponent to arrive at a just conclusion or clarify the unresolved issues, at which point, the conflict is formalized.


Step Five:  Direct Action


Occurs when negotiations have broken down or failed to produce a just response to the contested issues and conditions.


Step Six:  Reconciliation


Is the mandatory closing step of a campaign, when the opponents and proponents celebrate the victory and provide joint leadership to implement change.


We often view the Six Steps as phases or cycles of a campaign rather than steps because each of them embodies a cluster or series of activities related to each of the other five elements.



* Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” in Testament of Hope:  The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. James M. Washington (New York:  Harper and Row, 1986), p. 290.