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Obama, King and Gandhi combined for U.S. public diplomacy in India

Feb 12, 2009

NEW DELHI – While much of the world celebrates Valentines Day, February 14th will be celebrated in India as the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 1959 visit. And it all ties to photographs of King, Gandhi and President Obama.

To celebrate the anniversary, ten programs are planned in India featuring King's son, Martin Luther King III, Representative John Lewis - a veteran of the civil rights movement, and musician Herbie Hancock. (The U.S. embassy's description is here).

Now back to those photographs. Pictures of the new U.S. President are displayed all over the world; but in India, certain photographs have caught popular - and politicians' - imagination, and it is a centerpiece of the 50th anniversary events on Saturday.

The photos show then Senator Obama seated in his office. And as you can see in this photo of his old Senate office, behind Obama on his office wall, clearly visible just above his head, is a photo of Martin Luther King. Above him to his left (our right) is a photograph of Abraham Lincoln. And to his left on the wall, just as visible, is a photograph of Gandhi.

Wait, there's more:

For Saturday's celebrations, there will be music, with performers from the U.S. and India. One selection that is planned, to be performed by Indian choirs, is "We Shall Overcome."

The choir will not need to study hard to memorize the words; "We Shall Overcome" is taught here in the schools.



I hope there is somewhere in this collection/celebration a few photos, and quotes from Dr. Howard Thurman who contributed so much to King's interest and understanding of Ghandhi and the "non-violent" concept of civil disobedience. Dr. Thurman's visit to South Asia in 1936, with his wife and an African American delegation when he met Ghandi, broadened Dr. Thurman's perception and later inspired his book "Jesus and the Disinherited". This book and it's interpretations of the the writings in the new testament of the bible were a great influence on Dr. King's model.

John Milton Wesley

I agree with Mr. Wesley's observation. Why did you not mention it in your piece?

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