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Resolution on Gandhi's impact on Martin Luther in US Congress

Last updated on: February 09, 2009 12:59 IST

A resolution recognising Mahatma Gandhi's influence on Martin Luther King Jr and commemorating the golden jubilee anniversary of American civil rights leader's visit to India has been introduced in the US House of Representatives.

The resolution urges Americans to commemorate the impact that King's trip to India in 1959 and his study of Gandhian philosophy had in shaping the Civil Rights Movement and creating political climate necessary to pass legislation to expand civil rights and voting rights for all Americans.

"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," it says.

Introduced last week by Congressman John Lewis, the resolution has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary. Lewis is often called "one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced."

It has been co-sponsored by five others Congressmen, John Conyers, Jim McDermott, Robert C Scott, Henry Johnson and Adam B Schiff. 

Observing that the great American civil rights leader was tremendously influenced with non-violence philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, the resolution says King encountered this during his study of Gandhi, and was further inspired by him during his first trip to India.

King successfully used this in the struggle for civil rights and voting rights, it says. The resolution encourages Americans to pause and remember the 50th Anniversary of King's visit to India. A US delegation is visiting India to commemorate the occasion.

In an effort to have a firsthand experience of Gandhi's teachings and philosophy, King visited India from February 10, 1959 to March 10, 1959.

During his month long stay, King was accompanied by his wife Coretta Scott King, and Lawrence Reddick, then chairman of the history department at Alabama State College.

King visited various places associated with Gandhi and met a large number of followers of Gandhi.

He met the then Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the land reform leader Vinoba Bhave and other influential Indian leaders to discuss issues of poverty, economic policy and race relations.

All this reaffirmed and deepened King's commitment to non-violence and revealed to him the power that non-violent resistance holds in political and social battles, it says.

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