Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal of a citizen to obey certain laws, demands, orders or commands of a government. By some definitions, civil disobedience has to be nonviolent to be called 'civil'. Hence, civil disobedience is sometimes equated with peaceful protests or nonviolent resistance.
Henry David Thoreau popularized the term in the US with his essay Civil Disobedience, although the concept itself has been practiced longer before. It has inspired Mahatma Gandhi in his protests for Indian independence against the British Raj; and Martin Luther King Jr.'s peaceful protests during the civil rights movement in the US. Although civil disobedience is considered to be an expression of contempt for law, King regarded civil disobedience to be a display and practice of reverence for law: "Any man who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community on the injustice of the law is at that moment expressing the very highest respect for the law."