US team heads for India to retrace Martin Luther King’’s steps

February 13th, 2009 - 3:24 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Washington/New Delhi, Feb.13 (ANI): US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton flagged off a delegation of musicians and politicians in Washington on Thursday who will be traveling to India for the celebrations of 50th anniversary of Martin Luther Kings journey to India to study Mahatma Gandhi’’s teachings.
The delegation comprising of some of the renowned American politicians and musicians like Herbie Hancock, Ambassador Andy Young and former Senator Harris Wofford and many other distinguished members of Congress would be coming to India to mark the American Civil Rights leaders historic trip to India.
Kings eldest son, Martin Luther King III, will also be part of the delegation.He will visit India from February 15-27 to retrace the steps of his father. King will be joined by prominent American civil rights leaders, including Representative John Lewis. This commemorative visit includes a concert in New Delhi featuring music legends Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain, among others.
One of the delegation members Wofford, friend and close advisor of the senior King and a former US senator, believes Gandhi was instrumental in making King a Civil Rights leader.
King arrived in Bombay (now known as Mumbai) on February 9, 1959, along with his wife Coretta and close associates. The visit, which deepened his understanding of the use of non-violence, was instrumental in changing history.
The dispatch of a special delegation marks Obama administrations first concrete contact with India three weeks after it took office with a gesture of symbolic significance.
“They will be leading a congressional delegation to India to retrace the steps of Doctor King and Mrs King, and of course the person for whom this is a personal journey as well as a historic one, Martin Luther King, the third,” said Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State.
February is Black History Month in US, which is an annual remembrance of events and people who played a role in shaping the history of African Americans.
It also includes the civil rights movement of 1950s led by Martin Luther King Jr. who demonstrated to expose the blight of racial discrimination and pushed for equal rights.
The trip to India by US delegation is a reminder of how, the struggle for civil rights and justice has always been and continues to be a global mission.
“As we celebrate Black History Month here at home, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Kings trip to India is a reminder that the struggle for civil rights and justice has always been and continues to be a global mission; it knows no borders. As Dr. King told us, ”Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Clinton.
King was 30 years old when he traveled to India, but he had already led the Montgomery bus boycott, and had been greatly influenced by the wisdom and power of the nonviolent protest movement pioneered by the Indias iconic freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi.
“Doctor King toured the country for a month studying Gandhis philosophy, meeting with Prime Minister Nehru, he met with other Indian leaders in politics and government, in academia and the professions, in business and across the society and he talked with citizens and young people, at every opportunity. He brought the lessons he learnt there, back to United States, and renewed his own faith in the unmatched moral force of non violent resistance and its ability to achieve meaningful social change,” said Clinton.
Describing Kings visit to India as a landmark of the Civil Rights movement and a real testament of shared history between the two countries, Clinton expressed hope of the ties between US and India, growing even stronger in future.
“Doctor King’’s trip to India stands as a landmark of the Civil Rights movement and a real testament, Ambassador to the bonds of affection and shared history between our two nations. I want to thank the government of India for welcoming and supporting our delegation. A reflection that India also understand that the deep and broad partnership our countries are forging, is one based on common history and values. And it is because of that it is destined to grow even stronger in the future, said Clinton.
King’’s ”pilgrimage”, which was partly funded by the Quakers, took him to Delhi and the Sabarmati Ashram. The extent of Gandhian influence on King makes some, including Wofford, believe that he inherited Gandhi’’s mantle as the world’’s most influential advocate of non-violence.
Drawing parallel between the election of President Obama and Martin Luther Kings historic journey, Clinton said, “Doctor King’’s historic journey which really represents that journey that our country has been on and in many ways as we have celebrated the inauguration of President Obama, a journey that has brought great faith to people who follow the tenets of non violence and Doctor King’’s philosophy and preaching who have worked to make the changes here at home that continue to reverberate around the world. Its fitting that this mission be undertaken during black history month and just weeks after our Presidents historic inauguration.”
Barack Obama created history when he took power as the first black U.S. president.
The inauguration of Obama, 47, the son of a black Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, was steeped in symbolism for African-Americans, who for generations suffered slavery and then racial segregation that made them second-class citizens. (ANI)

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