Mahatma Gandhi & Martin Luther King Jr.: An Overview Today seems like an ideal day to talk about two of the most important advocates for civil rights and nonviolence our world has ever seen: Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. In light of our unit on India, Gandhi is a fitting historical figure to discuss, as he raised awareness about the plight of the untouchables (who we will learn about later), who he referred to as the "Harijans" or "Children of God." Gandhi went on to lead a nonviolent movement to free his people from British oppression. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday and national holiday we are celebrating, was profoundly influenced by Gandhi.
Today as we examine the lives of these two remarkable men, make note of the parallels in their lives, actions, and words, as well as some of the differences. Use the Gandhi and King - Venn Diagram, which can be found in your Social Studies Google Classroom, to record important similarities and differences that you discover.
To begin, we will watch a brief presentation of Gandhi's life through the video "The Gandhi Rap" below.
Looking to learn more about the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.? Explore the Gandhi Presentation and the King Presentation from the website Gandhi and King, which honors the life and work of both men. A brief summation from the site of their similarities and differences can be found below.
Gandhi and King: Speaking Up for Nonviolence There are also parallels in the messages of nonviolence that both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. advocated. Let's begin by listening to a rerecording of a famous speech given by Gandhi in which he speaks about the need for non-violent protest in order to gain equality.
Watch below as Martin Luther King Jr. makes clear the influence of Gandhi on his own philosophy of nonviolence.
Now let's read an excerpt from Dr. King's famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" which he wrote while imprisoned for organizing a protest march. As you read the text, do you notice similarities to Gandhi's message? How is King's belief in "creative tension" somewhat different than Gandhi's tactic of non-cooperation?
Are Gandhi and King's Messages of Nonviolence Still Relevant Today? What can we still learn from Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.? Are their messages of nonviolence and peaceful protest relevant in our world today? How can we apply their goals of tolerance, love, peace, and equality to the times we live in now? Before you answer these questions, examine the photographs with captions below.
|Gandhi's "March to the Sea" in protest against the British tax on salt (1930).|
|Martin Luther King leading march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, to protest |
the lack of voting rights for Africa Americans (1965).
|A peaceful 'Black Lives Matter' rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota (2015).|
|At least 3.7 million people including more than 40 world leaders marched throughout France last year in |
a rally of national unity to honor the 17 victims of a three-day terror spree that took place around the French capital.