Washington: It is common knowledge that American civil rights activist Martin Luther King was a follower of Gandhi, but according to an Arizona scholar what
is worthy of highlighting is the fact that it was his mentors who had met the Mahatma on a visit to India, who inspired him to follow the Indian leader.
Arizona State University scholar Keith Miller, who has authored a book on Martin Luther King Junior, has introduced a new course on non-violence and the civil rights movement in the University.
Miller says King was not the first person in America to highlight the methods of Gandhi.
"People think King was up reading Gandhi all night, but it is important to understand that the African-American press had been following Gandhi since the early 1930s and 1940s," said Miller in an interview released by the press office of the University.
He said some of the political leaders, such as A Phillip Randolph had organised conferences about Gandhi and had been trying to figure out a way to bring Gandhian practices to US.
"Two of King`s most important mentors, Benjamin Mays and Howard Thurman, actually went to India in the 1930s and 1940s to figure out how to enact his practices in the US. Gandhi made a famous prediction to Thurman, in which he regretted not having made non-violence more visible as a practice worldwide
and suggested that American blacks would succeed where he had failed," Miller said.
He said the Arab Spring was particularly interesting study on how Gandhian methods were effective, and had provided fresh evidence on the relevance of non-violence.
In Egypt and Tunisia especially, for the most part the movements were exemplary Gandhian campaigns of protest and civil disobedience with the successful overthrow of the dictatorships.
"I think that is fresh evidence of the power of non-violence. Though this success brings up very important questions: How do you transition from protest to politics? How do you institutionalise the gains that you have made and prevent reversals? These are questions of great importance in understanding the process of non-violent resistance," he said.