From the Archives: Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Eleanor Roosevelt's tributes on Mahatma Gandhi's 10th death anniversary - Hindustan Times
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From the Archives: Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Eleanor Roosevelt's tributes on Mahatma Gandhi's 10th death anniversary

May 30, 2024 07:19 PM IST

On January 30, 1958 — 10th anniversary of MK Gandhi's death — HT published tributes from Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Read their pieces below

In a recent interview, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed to the need for the world to know about Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation and the leader of the Independence movement. Gandhi was murdered by a religious fanatic on January 30, 1948 in Delhi. Nathuram Godse shot at Gandhi shortly after the leader had conducted the evening's prayers — Godse later said that he was incensed by Gandhi's message of Hindu-Muslim peace and unity. Even 10 years later, Gandhi's popularity hadn't waned. On January 30, 1958 — the 10th anniversary of his death — the Hindustan Times published a page of tributes from various luminaries and thinkers, including Eleanor Roosevelt, the former First Lady of the United States of America and a human rights activist, as well as Dr Martin Luther King Jr, one of the most famous civil rights activists of the 20th century. Read their pieces below.

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr stands next to a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi in his office in 1966.(Bob Fitch Photography Archive, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries) PREMIUM
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr stands next to a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi in his office in 1966.(Bob Fitch Photography Archive, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries)

 

His Influence Speaks To World Conscience

By: Dr Martin Luther King Jr

January 30, 1958

Mahatma Gandhi has done more than any other person in history to reveal that social problems can be solved without resorting to primitive methods of violence. In this sense, he is more than a saint of India. He belongs — as they said of Abraham Lincoln — to the ages. In our struggle against racial segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, I came to see at a very early stage that a synthesis of Gandhi's method of non-violence and the Christian ethic of love is the best weapon available to Negroes for this struggle for freedom and human dignity. It may well be that the Gandhian approach will bring about a solution to the race problem in America. His spirit is a continual reminder to oppressed people that it is possible to resist evil and yet not resort to violence.

The Gandhian influence in some way still speaks to the conscience of the world as nations- grapple with international problems. If we fail, on an international scale, to follow the Gandhian principle of non-violence, we may end up destroying ourselves through the misuse of our own instruments. The choice is no longer between violence and non-violence. It is now either non-violence or non-existence.

Oppressed people can deal with oppression in three ways. They can accept or acquiesce. Under segregation, they can adjust to it. Yet non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. The minute one accepts segregation, one cooperates with it. Oppressed people can, on the other hand, resort to physical violence, a method both whole nations and oppressed peoples have used. But violence merely brings about a temporary victory and not permanent peace. It creates ever new problems. Gandhi has come on the scene of history with still another way. He would resist evil as much as the man who uses violence, but he resists it without external violence or violence of the spirit. That is what Gandhism does. It is a method of the strong. If the only alternative is between cowardice and violence, it is better — as Gandhi said — to use violence, but there is another way.

I myself gained this insight from Gandhi. When I was in theological school. I thought the only way we could solve our problem of segregation was an armed revolt. I felt that the Christian ethic of love was confined to individual relationships. I could not see how it could work in social conflict. Then I read Gandhi's ethic of love as revealed in Jesus but raised to a social strategy for social transformation. This lifts love from individual relationships to the place of social transformation. This Gandhi helped us to understand and for this, we are grateful a decade after his death.

 

Dr Martin Luther King Jr on Gandhi's 10th death anniversary(HT Archives)
Dr Martin Luther King Jr on Gandhi's 10th death anniversary(HT Archives)

Eleanor Roosevelt's article on Gandhi

 

A symbol of a new idea

By: Eleanor Roosevelt

January 30, 1958

It is hard to believe that ten years have passed since the tragic death of Mohandas K. Gandhi. The world lost a man who was a living inspiration, but think it gained a memory which continues to inspire year by year, more and more people and continues to give them a greater understanding of the values which this great man tried to teach in his life. His influence has been great throughout the world and think even in this country, so far removed from India, the story of his life is known and appreciated by a great many people. He was a symbol of a new idea.

It may take many years for the lesson which he wanted to teach to spread throughout the world but the ripples of his influence widen as the years go on, I am convinced. How remarkable it is that one man who chose to live simply to give himself to the improvement of the lives of others and who applied himself primarily to the alleviation of the wrongs of the weakest and poorest people in his own environment should enjoy a reputation which seems to be based on so much firmer a foundation than that of many men in the past decade who strove for personal aggrandizement and material power. This is a lesson which should sink deep into the hearts of many who are leaders in the world today, for I believe that it is those who are truly concerned with the rights of human beings and the improvement of the conditions under which they live the world over who will eventually lead us to the peace and brotherhood which was the basis on which Mohandas K. Gandhi built his life.

 

Eleanor Roosevelt on Gandhi's 10th death anniversary(HT Archive)
Eleanor Roosevelt on Gandhi's 10th death anniversary(HT Archive)

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