Son retraces father’s pilgrimage,50 years on

Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr had,in 1959,visited Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya,Mumbai,as part of what he declared as “a pilgrimage to India.”

Written by Pooja Pillai | Mumbai | Published:February 20, 2009 2:30 am

Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr had,in 1959,visited Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya,Mumbai,as part of what he declared as “a pilgrimage to India.” Fifty years on,his son Martin Luther King III retraced his steps back to the cloistral calm of Mani Bhavan on Thursday. It was just one stop on his nationwide tour,during which he’ll visit all places visited by his father.

“We are humbled to be at Mani Bhavan,” he said. “It’s wonderful to be at this facility where my father had stayed and felt the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi. Today,my wife and I feel both their spirits here.”

Wearing garlands made of yarn,King III and members of the Congressional delegation who accompanied him stressed that the journey assumes significance with the election of Barack Obama. “We still have work to do in repairing race relations,but we’ve come a long way since my father first began his struggle,” King III said.

Two members of the delegation — Rep. John Lewis and Ambassador Andrew Young — had worked with King Jr in his struggle.

“No one is born with racial hatred,” Lewis said,“it is taught to us. A man,who had once beaten me up,came to my office a few weeks ago and asked for my forgiveness. He’d always wanted to,but hadn’t been able to bring himself to do it. It was Obama’s election that finally pushed him over.”

Congressman Spencer Bachus said,“You may be wondering what I’m doing here. I’m here to thank India for giving us a man like Mahatma Gandhi. His message of non-violence has given us two things — the courage to do the right thing and freedom from an unjust system.”

The delegation spent some time discussing Gandhiji’s influence on King. And in the end,King III signed the same guest book that his father had signed in 1959.

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