The US House of Representatives passed a resolution recognising Mahatma Gandhi’s influence on Martin Luther King Jr. and plans to commemorate the golden jubilee anniversary of the American civil rights leader’s visit to India in 1959. A US cultural delegation arrives in India on Friday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will send off the delegation comprising of Martin Luther King III and US House Representatives John Lewis, Spencer Bachus and Herbie Hancock to India to commemorate King’s tour.
The resolution, passed with a 406 to 0 vote and 26 abstentations, recalls how King’s study of Gandhian philosophy helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.
“The trip to India impacted Dr King in a profound way, and inspired him to use non-violence as an instrument of social change to end segregation and racial discrimination in America throughout the rest of his work during the Civil Rights Movement,” read the resolution.
The delegation begins its trip in New Delhi and will travel around India to some of the principal sites associated with Gandhi’s work.
King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, travelled to India from Feb 10 to March 10, 1959. Upon their return to the US, King and other leaders of the civil rights movement drew on Gandhi’s ideas to transform American society.
During his month long stay in India, King met the then Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, land reform leader Vinoba Bhave and other Indian leaders to discuss issues of poverty, economic policy and race relations.
In a radio address to India in 1959, King had said: “The spirit of Gandhi is so much stronger today than some people believe”. That statement is as true today as it was 50 years ago, said McDermott.