Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Meet: Mahatma Gandhi

Meet: Mahatma Gandhi
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta, GA, Southern Christian Leadership Conference office,1966.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was influenced by Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi lived from 1869–1948. Gandhi led nonviolent civil disobedience in support of Indian independence from British colonialism. Gandhi’s own life and thinking was influenced by the two decades he spent in South Africa as a lawyer, witnessing and personally experiencing the effects of racism, discrimination and colonialism there. When Gandhi returned to India, he led a movement of “non-cooperation,” a way to nonviolently resist British colonial rule. Gandhi developed the ideas and practice of satyagraha.

Many people within the United States looked to Gandhi’s leadership in India as an example for freedom struggles around the world. In 1935, Howard Thurman went to India and met Gandhi. King called Gandhi “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”

Watch: King Talks About Gandhi

Watch/Read: A Brief Biography of Gandhi

Read: The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas by Mahatma Gandhi and edited by Louis Fischer

Reflect: How was the civil rights movement in America similar to — and different from — the Indian independence movement? What are the commonalities and differences between Gandhi and King?



Posted or updated: 3/27/2018 12:00:00 AM
Remembering King: Rekindling the Dream. Click to visit resource page.

A Poem by Langston Hughes

Gandhi Is Fasting

Mighty Britain, tremble!
Let your empire’s standard sway
Lest it break entirely—
Mr. Gandhi fasts today.

You may think it foolish—
That there’s no truth in what I say—
That all of Asia’s watching
As Gandhi fasts today.

All of Asia’s watching,
And I am watching, too,
For I am also jim crowed—
As India is jim crowed by you.

You know quite well, Great Britain,
That is it not right
To starve and beat and oppress
Those who are not white.

Of course, we do it too,
Here in the U.S.A.
May Gandhi’s prayers help us, as well,
As he fasts today.