Albert J. Raboteau explains that not everyone shared the same motivation for non-violent protest.
For many people in the civil rights movement, the non-violence was a tactic, a political tactic which they accepted as important. But for them, they did not adapt it as a way of life as King did. For King, non-violence was not simply a tactic, it was a way of life that reflected the Creator in whose image and likeness all of us were made. And so, for him, non-violence respected the divine image within each person.
Now not everyone was non-violent in the civil rights movement. And people who were non-violent often didn’t believe in non-violence as a way of life, but viewed it more as a political tactic. So Fannie Lou Hamer, for example, had seven guns in her house – just in case. Or as one tenant farmer put it, “This non-violence can get you killed.” So for many people, it was seen as a political tactic, not as a way of life. But for King and others who accepted non-violence as a way of life, it was because it was consonant with the image and likeness of God within all.