MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.- A TOWERING SYMBOL OF PEACE
“To other countries, I go as a tourist but to India I come as a pilgrim,” said Martin Luther King Jr. soon after his flight landed at the New Delhi airport on the morning of March 10, 1959.
It is worth mentioning at the lead that the world leader I admire most is Martin Luther King Jr. after I had read his biography written by his widowed wife, Coretta Scott King. King Jr. was a coloured leader who laid down his life while fighting against injustice meted out to the coloured people (Negro people) of America in America! The civil war that King Jr. had waged relentlessly, eradicated the crude practice of unjust bus segregation laws prevailing then where coloured people were banned to sit next to the white!
Rising to this occasion, King Jr. led a mass of protestors, however, advocating non-violence and peaceful ways on a par with the Gandhian policy of Satyagraha! This evoked the white people’s anger. His house was bombed, his near and dear were beaten up, and the warped justice put numerous coloured people behind bars. Yet, enduring all these, King Jr. did not deviate from his policy: non violence! He suffered grievous injuries and was bedridden.
It was a long-drawn battle for justice. King Jr. proclaimed, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As the days passed, even white people also joined hands with him and fought in unison! At last, his efforts bore fruit. King Jr. achieved in his mission, a dream that came true to him. The segregation policy was quashed! The entire world applauded King Jr. for his non-violence policy.
It was while he was in hospital, he decided to visit India. But he had no sufficient funds. His friend, Libby Holman Reynolds sponsored for the flight ticket.
Meanwhile, Gandhi Peace Foundation in India kept inviting King Jr. for over a year. King Jr. and his wife Coretta arrived in India. It was at the air port in New Delhi that King Jr. said his visit to India was a pilgrimage.
The couple paid homage at Raj Ghat where the mortal remains of the slain Mahatma was cremated. They also met President Rajendra Prasad, Nehru, Dr. Radhakrishnan, Vinoba Bhave and many other eminent leaders and followers of Mahatma. Coretta praised India and the Indians. “We loved the Indians for the warmth and the spiritual quality they possess. We even wondered why Indians should be different from humanity everywhere.”
Of the many things that King Jr. had learned from Mahatma, most important fewer were, Nonviolence, Patience, Endurance, Equality, Respect for others, Unity in diversity, Satyagraha, the force of the soul and many other quality a leader who loves peace has to have.
After he had gained worldwide accolades, in December 1964 King Jr. was decorated with the Nobel Prize for Peace. Four years later, it was on April 4, 1968 when Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis and was about to speak at a mass rally that he fell victim to a cowardice’s bullet.
About leaders, Peters voiced, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”