US team to join celebrations for Martin Luther King’s India journey

January 16th, 2009 - 11:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 16 (IANS) The US is sending a high-level delegation to India in February to commemorate American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1959 India journey to study Mahatma Gandhi.The delegation will be led by Martin Luther King III, the first son of Dr. King, John Lewis, civil rights movement veteran and a member of the US House of Representatives, and legendary jazz musician Herbie Hancock, the US State Department announced Friday.

The State Department will support the February 2009 celebrations in India to commemorate the tour by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago to study Mahatma Gandhi, it said, noting: “This tour deeply influenced the American civil rights movement.”

The delegation along with other distinguished Americans will meet with their counterparts in India to underscore the enduring importance of the King and Gandhi legacies.

The delegation will meet in New Delhi with government leaders, social activists, and youth, and will travel around India to some of the principal sites associated with Mahatma Gandhi’s work.

There will be two special musical performances featuring Herbie Hancock and others organised by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

In Chennai, Indian musicians will conduct a special tribute, including performances of music on the theme of non-violence created by leading composer A.R. Rahman, widely acclaimed for writing the score for the Mumbai-shot hit film “Slumdog Millionaire”, and a dramatic reading by film actor and director Kamal Haasan.

In Feb 1959, Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King travelled throughout India in search of the roots of the nonviolent social action movement for Indian independence, studying Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals and meeting his followers around the country.

Upon their return to the US, Dr. King and other leaders of the civil rights movement drew on Gandhi’s ideas to transform American society.

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